If I had to describe my body, I’d compare it to a puppet where everything is just a little off. I have scoliosis that leaves my hips uneven, legs that are slightly different lengths and make my knees knock together, and flat feet that cause knee pain and shin splints if I try to run or walk quickly. On top of that pain sundae, a few years ago, my physiatrist diagnosed me with a chronic, degenerative spine condition where the fluid in the center of my vertebrae leaks out into the surrounding tissue, causing inflammation that no ice pack can cease.
It sounds like a forecast for depression (and trust me, it was). But almost anyone with a hard-to-pinpoint condition will tell you that finally getting an accurate diagnosis brings at least some relief. With the help of my doctor and physical therapist, I was able to strengthen my core enough to relieve some of the pressure on my spine, and my back pain has massively improved since. Still, things like carrying a heavy bag, stressful driving, or sitting in a non-supportive chair for hours often turn my back into a field of knots. So, short of paying a chiropractor or masseuse to live with me, this $20 trigger point back massager is the next best thing.
An S-shaped plastic hook with trigger point balls ridged along the curve, the LiBa Back and Neck Massager looks simple enough, and it’s easy to use on my own. I sling it over my shoulder and lean back into it, pushing the hook into the knots that live under my right shoulder blade, and then flip it horizontally to knead my lower back. They’re the type of tough knots that can make a deep tissue massage feel like torture, but similar to how leaning against a lacrosse ball or using a foam roller eventually releases tension, so too does the hook. The tool also comes with a self-massage guide, which comes in handy for locating trigger points so I can focus on working through them.
It’s no replacement for an expert’s touch, so rest assured that I’m still right-swiping on anyone who calls themselves a chiropractor or physical therapist (at this point, love and a live-in masseuse seem like the same thing). But while I’m on my own through the pandemic, the trigger point hook gets the job done more conveniently and efficiently than a lacrosse ball—and no less than 7,500 five-star Amazon ratings agree.
One shopper called the LiBa “a very effective self-treatment tool” and said they recommend it as a “traveling companion.” Another called it “incredible” for their chronic neck and shoulder pain: “I go to massage therapy regularly, but I can't seem to stop scrunching up my shoulders at my desk job when I'm working on the computer,” they write. “This thing is incredible. You can put it on a knot and put as much pressure on it as you can possibly stand. I'm in love.”
Others write that it’s a lifesaver for muscle spasms and pinched nerves, and multiple people say their massage therapists recommended the massager for daily relief. After a few days of putting pressure on their knots, they felt them dissolve. It’s the kind of satisfaction that you never want to stop, which is why one person said they’d take the LiBa with them if they were ever stranded on a deserted island. It might not help you make fire, but it sure can relieve the stress of thinking about it.
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