Backnobber Deep Tissue Self Massage Tool$29.95
The first time I discovered the Backnobber I was in a health food store in Santa Monica.
I had just finished my 5th massage of the day and literally stood there for 45 minutes in the store working on myself with this beautiful tool.
Standing in that health food store, I could work the top of trapezius (that meaty area on top of the shoulders that is tight on a lot of people) and neck which are the few (but crucial) areas that is difficult to reach with the tennis ball.
This was the first of its kind, an s-shape of the tool gives the user the leverage to get really great pressure without exerting too much effort, and it also allows the user to get into some really tough-to-reach places, like under the scapulas.
I have used all of them and will probably write a review for all of them eventually, but I want to start with the first one I picked up, which was the Backnobber.
The Backnobber is literally shaped like an ‘S’ with knobs (round plastic balls of different size) at the end of each end of the ‘S’.
Super Simple Design.
And I have to say that I never felt the tool was lacking in any way when I used it, despite only having two knobs to use for trigger point therapy.
It is kind of an anti-intuitive thing, but additional knobs are not necessarily an improvement on design, and in some positions, the additional knobs could put pressure on areas that you don’t want or block you from getting the right angle for the muscle you are aiming for.
The design was originally steel with wooden balls or “knobs” at each end, one large and one small. The current design is all plastic and fiberglass, still pretty sturdy and less weight than the steel version.
What Can You Do With A Backnobber?
Someone without professional massage therapy experience might look at a Backnobber and think that it is no different than all of those other handheld massage tools that are meant to assist with self-massage.
But the Backnobber is special because it is all about deep work and deep tissue.
This is an important thing to note because if you are familiar with this website, you know that I am very cautious about deep tissue, especially when people do not know what they are doing.
So if you are reading this and you are a professional massage therapist who understands the power of deep tissue massage, you already are aware of what I am saying, but if you are a client, then I just want to mention that you should exercise a bit of caution at first because you don’t want to go too deep to fast.
Clients and non-professionals would definitely benefit from using the Backnobber and can do it safely if they remember to go gently at first and to work their way up to a deeper massage with the Backnobber tool to know what their own limits are with deep tissue.
Sometimes deep tissue feels great at the time of the massage but you find out a day later that you are a bit sorer than you expected.
This has happened to me and I know my limits, am a professional massage therapist and have received thousands of massages in my lifetime, but even I sometimes forget all of that when I am on the table and the deep tissue feels so good that it overrides my awareness of what is too much pressure for my body.
Anyway, to use this tool, you hook the ‘S’ over or under your shoulder and leverage the ‘S’ shape to reach muscles and trigger points on the back of the body.
I especially like it on the top of my shoulders (top of trapezius) as I mentioned earlier because this is where I hold a lot of my own tension and I can really leverage the Backnobber to get into those muscles and release tightness.
I also love that when I place the Backnobber under my arm, I can get under my scapula with the little knob. This allows me to reach trigger points on my own body that I normally would not be able to reach on my own with enough power to release them.
There is one trigger point on the side of the body, just below the armpit, that is especially active for me and while I can reach it with my hands, I find that the Backnobber does a much more effective job at working that point.
Trigger Point Massager or Deep Tissue Massager
If you are not a professional massage therapist, you may be wondering now what the difference is between deep tissue massage and trigger point massage (also called “Trigger Point Therapy”.
You may also be wondering if the Backnobber is an appropriate tool for you if you do not know Trigger Point Massage.
Let’s start with deep tissue massage first, which I will go into greater depth about in a different post, but for the purposes of this review, it is basically a type of massage that focuses on the deeper muscles of the body.
Have you ever used a massage tool (like this one) and thought, “Ok, that feels good but it is not really getting that uncomfortable tightness which feels deeper than what this massager can do”?
That sensation is the massage tool working on the superficial muscles that are closest to the skin, rather than the deeper muscles that sometimes are the cause for the discomfort.
Compare this with trigger point work, which is about areas of tension in the muscle that originates from an injury or strain (even a mild one) that never fully healed and so the body holds that point as a way of protecting that area.
The “therapy” aspect of trigger point therapy is “waking up” that area and helping the body to know that that area is no longer injured.
There are various ways to do work on trigger points.
If you are interested in “deeper” knowledge about this (haha, there’s a pun) these books ere are the original texts on Trigger Point Therapy that are considered the basis upon all other works for trigger point therapy: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
Going back to the Backnobber, this massage tool can be used for both deep tissue, which just requires you to focus in on the area you feel you need the pressure, and trigger point, which is more technical and a bit more complicated because trigger points often create something called “referred pain” which means the tightness or pain is nowhere near the trigger point.
For example, the trigger point might be in the mid back area, but the referred pain might be in the neck.
This site has a great deal of information about referred pain.
And so, if you don’t know the science behind trigger point therapy, it might be difficult for you to use the Backnobber for that purpose, but you can still use this massage tool for deep tissue massage, assuming you work your way up and do it at a safe pace.
Being able to reach very specific points on your back and massage them in a deep way is very useful to both professional massage therapists and non-therapists alike.
The Backnobber may look too basic to really have the capability and range of reach to really be useful or therapeutic, especially compared to other similar trigger point tools with more complex designs, but the Backnobber gives you everything you need to get the full range of massage you require for both deep tissue and trigger points on those hard to reach areas of your back.
Also, you can take this Backnobber (this is the Backnobber II version) apart at the middle and that will help it to fit in bags better. Lightweight portability is the benefits of the updated version. Version 1 could not be taken apart and was made of very strong steel that was slightly heavier than the version II, made from nylon and fiberglass.
Also, if you are completely at a loss as to how to work on your back with the Backnobber, there is a 15-page manual that will help you get started toward feeling better and gives you ideas on how to use it as a healing massage tool.