A little less than a year ago, I was standing in Dick’s Sporting Goods trying to decide if $40 was “worth it”.

Worth not suffering the kinda posture that turns me into a shuffling 30-year-old geriatric, that is. And that’s what the standard foam roller would cost me to DIY style work out the kinks I’d caused myself with rotten posture. “Why bother?” I wondered, reasoning that “well if I get rid of all those knots myself, it won’t give Joe or Olga or Ceasar anything to do while I lazily lay on the tables of Massage Envy, will it? Plus, there’s one at my P.T. clinic. Isn’t that enough?” Like a cosmically resounding “no” from the great beyond, my thoracic muscles went into a massive synchronistic spasm like some agonal choir. So I bought the bastard.

And I haven’t regretted it since.

Granted, it took me a while to use it properly. My erratic brained handicap tends to manifest every time I try – it’s this condition where I’ll tighten up even more because my body can’t handle the initial stages of sitting still and waiting for muscle release to happen. It’s like I can’t accept that I have to do my part by focusing on something as inactive as relaxing. So, for the first five to ten minutes, my gyri and sulci start to get all panicky and conspire about how to squeeze in new folds – like any time I’m not being stimulated. Generally, I just end up losing a few instead. But, like they say, practice makes your Dowager’s hump disappear. ‘cause I’ve been working harder to combat my inner four year old (who I’m informed might be less “inner” than I think) and work on that. Meditation’s helped (though I can rarely last a full 20 minutes like they say) me do my part. While I wouldn’t say it’s the panacea (you need a full bodied plan of care to follow), like the dude in this video says, it def makes the other stuff easier to attack, after.

Protip – as a yes-and to those front-shoulder muscles, I high recommend a doorway stretch and SCM stretch (bottom).

Some of these’ll hurt like a sonofamother – but the misery is mitigated by deep breathing, trying your best to avoid thought-distractions, and focusing on relaxing the truculent muscle with whom you’re trying to negotiate. I personally like the biofeedback method – go into the stretch, slightly tighten the culprit area while inhaling, then relax 100% and a half while exhaling. It may sound like I’m issuing some digital prescription from my pedestal of ignorance (I mean, I don’t have a degree – yet – why should you listen to me?) But, if you’re open to some first-hand advice, I will say this: when we get used to physical pain, many of us don’t even realize we’re physically suffering from aches or body tightnesses anymore. Instead, it just turns into depression, mood swings, unproductive work days, panic attacks, and other domino-effect disorders physically as well. That’s what happened to me and apparently a ton’a other folk too. For over a year, I had no idea why I was getting this TMJD locking up my jaw. Why I couldn’t see properly outta one my eyes. The headaches. Feeling like there wasn’t any oxygen in the room.

Good news? It was all posturally induced.

Bad news? That meant I needed to get off my ass and fix it myself.

(These symptoms are terrifying until you realize you’re the source of your own problem.)

I’m not back to 100% status, but I’m at over half the improvement level I was thanks to some stretches that only cost you about ten minutes worth of effort. Well, that and this contraption that was totes worth the $40 I spent on it. Still, the best course of action’s to hit up a P.T. first (after your P.C.P.) and make sure the foam roller will be good for your P.O.C. (enough acro’s?) I know, I know – that means spending money – but no one can diagnose you online. I mean, what if you make an appointment and find a small garden gnome growing out of your sixth thoracic vertebrae? Clearly that requires surgical professionals to extract him – not a human rolling pin to squish him into the innervated bone pole tasked with keeping you ambulatory.

(For that shoulder muscle he pointed out.)

(For those tight front neck muscles.)

*Again – seek a P.T. to guide you initially. God forbid you’re a spastic like me who could turn yourself into quadraplegic just by mimicking a simple stretch incorrectly

After you’re in the clear, you may wanna do it every day as soon as you wake up (I do – before my brain can argue with me). Try that and see if you don’t feel a li’l bit freer and less curmudgeonly as the day ensues. I know I do.

In fact, I might even let Olga think she was responsible for my myofascial miracles when I visit her today.

If nada else, it’ll soften the blow of the usually amazing tip I can’t afford to leave her this time.