As an anxious person with a job that requires me to sit at a desk for long periods of time, my back is an absolute wasteland of knots. Come day’s end, the upper muscles of my back feel heavier, as though I’ve been wearing some sort of cement yoke.
I take some measures. I stretch and stand often. And sometimes, although not often enough, I foam roll. It all helps. But I still need something to really get in there and work out those troublesome knots. Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of recommended options, from massage rollers to cape-like massagers that draped over my shoulders and made me feel as though I was preparing for a dental X-ray, to a Wimbledon’s worth of tennis balls. None really got the job done. Then, a little while back, a friend of mine, a professional dancer no stranger to muscle soreness, recommended the Thera Cane. And let me tell you, it’s the best thing to happen to my back.
Developed by a chronic pain patient who was recovering from both neck surgery and a herniated disc, the Thera Cane is a j-shaped plastic cane. It sort of resembles a coat rack or one of those long hooks used to quickly yank bad performers off vaudeville stages. Its 25-inches long and weighs about a pound. On the cane are six fiberglass pressure knobs; two smaller poles jut off of it too.
Yes, it’s funny looking. But, boy does it work. To use it, you grip the non-hooked end and angle the Thera Cane in such a way that one of its knobs able to reach a sore spot. Then, you apply pressure by pushing the handle out and begin to release the tension. Basically, those little knobs press into your knots and you use force the same way you would when wedging a crowbar into a window frame — except its far less aggressive.
This is not hyperbole, friends: The Thera Cane works out the knots in my back in a way that no other massager has. Thanks to its unique shape, I’m able to pinpoint the exact trouble spot and really jam it in there. I can reach trouble spots easily and apply the right amount of pressure. Perhaps the best part of the Thera Cane is the way it allows me to have control of the amount of force I apply. I can easily dial in a bit more or a bit less with very little effort and release those tension points. In short, it helps me chisel away at that cement yoke and feel better at day’s end.
Of course, the Thera Cane is meant for a variety of muscle aches, not the upper back. I use it on my neck, shoulders, and quads, too. I’ve found it particularly useful for massaging my IT bands, which, also thanks to my daily routine of sitting, sitting, and more sitting, feel like steel rods. Massaging each area properly requires you to position the Thera Cane just so, but there’s a how-to list of tension relieving exercises and explanations you can find here.
Will the Thera Cane help you? I don’t know. I’m just a guy who sits all day. But it’s helped me and, if it can provide some relief for you, well, that’s a great thing. Either way, it sure beats buying a gross of tennis balls.