Cubicle Experiment

The Rub Down - 30days of Massage

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Day 2 Day Realtime

Experiment Observations



Massage 23 | Day 23

The shoulder is a marvelous joint, capable of a full hemisphere of movement it’s can move under load and apply tremendous force on the world. To facilitate this extremely versatile modalities it needs a complex array of muscles to support and direct the motion. Massage 23 was used to workout the Rotator Cuff, in particular the infraspinatus muscle (see picture for specific location).

Massage Breakdown

Laying face down on the massage table:

Position the arm along the body

apply searching static pressure using knuckles or finger tips around the lats and shoulder region (take note of the tender areas)

After 5 min of searching return to the problem areas with NMT (Neuromuscular therapy) and work out the junk. If the massage-y is uncomfortable you’re not doing it wrong. (if pain is referring lighten up the pressure).

Attempt manipulating the arm into different positions and attaching the same “problem areas”

Switch sides

Massage Takeaway

The shoulder rotator cuff is an area that most athletes will have had a previous injury in. Due to the large loads that athletes apply in their sport and the damage the rotator occur it is worthwhile to have some special care given to them. Unfortunately due to the size and specificity of the rotator cuffs, infraspinatus include it would be advisable to have a skilled massage therapist work it rather than a self lacrosse ball roll out.

Massage 24 | Day 24

Because the rotator cuff consists of so many muscle groups I thought it would be prudent to dwell on this area for a little while longer before moving onto other parts. Massage 24 focused on the neighbor to the infraspinatus by the lats, the teres major muscle! I know you’ve probably never heard of it but you have most likely used it. Place your arm to the side and swing your arm to the outside. There you have it, using the teres major muscle.

Massage Breakdown

Lay on one side place the arm of the side that is up in the air palm down close to your face and continue to bring your elbow vertical.

The masseuse will use a series of friction and static compression to massage the teres major.

The static holds will feel awkward at first, especially if you are ticklish, since the massage therapist will be reaching near your armpit and apply a pinching / clamp like static hold with their fingers around the teres major.

Working around the massage therapist will move up and down the muscle as well and getting their fingers close to the rib cage.

Flapping your elbow like a chicken, slowly, will help the therapist apply friction to the muscle group as they are applying static friction.

* it should take 5-7 min per side to properly attack the teres major muscle

Massage Takeaway

This is a pretty small specific muscle group. You more than likely won’t be waking up one morning holding your side and complain, “O, my teres major is totally blown out!”. But that being said if you are looking for a place to reduce stress and “toxins” the teres major can be a place that can harbor it. If you do decide that this is a muscle group that needs working, consult an experience massage therapist as there are a number of lymph nodes in the area. Don’t damage those, they feel like small fatty cysts btw.




Massage 21 | Day 21

I arrived at Valerie’s studio today with a clear ache that I knew she could fix for me. It was one of those aches that is best described as feeling like you are bound up, tied and restrained and just crying out to be let loose. The ache originated on the outside of my hip between the hip bone and the spin. Pretty close to where my waist band usually sits. The only complication was I wasn’t sure what muscle group was the problem child. We focused on three primary muscles that all could have been the culprit: piriformis, glutes, ITB.

Massage Breakdown

Applying static stretch pressure going 20 degrees inward from the leg. Continue altering and applying pressure at 20 degree increments until your are perpendicular to the hips.

Alternating between the muscle groups (piriformis - low and on the outside of the glute, Glutes - Higher near the hip crest, ITB - next to the femur applying pressure inward and then rotating to push pressure down through the surface the massagey is laying on) applying static, stripping pressure.

Again alternating between the muscle groups use NMT elbows to dig into the muscle and identify which grouping is the culprit.

Switch sides and repeat.

Follow up with some tenderizing, Tapotement or percussion massage (ie hitting with an open hand) on the piriformis, glutes, and ITB.

Massage Takeaway

It was the GLUTES! they were incredibly, ridiculously tender when Valerie was applying NMT and the static pressures. It also turns out that is right where I was identifying the stress when I walked in. On my person, right where my waist band is resides directly over the top portion of the glutes. The only way I would have found that out is by Valerie alternating through those groups and testing them through massage.

Massage 22 | Day 22

We’ve all seen the machines in the sea of workout equipment at big, corporate gyms before. You even see them in the isolatory machines that hotels often have. These machines are the ones where you load up the weight, sit down, lock your legs in place and start pulling a bar down either in front of your face or behind your next. Yes, I’m talking about the “lat pull down”. Funny thing is you can get a similar workout / muscle activation by just doing pull ups. Not only will pull ups do the same thing as the lat pull down but pull ups will develop the internal confidence that you are capable to moving your body through the real world. Need to look over a wall? Feel like putting your chin above a bar? Trying desperately to climb a rope ladder that’s hanging from a dirigible as you escape the evil volcano layer of your most hated enemy? The pull up will insure you’re able to perform. That’s why in Massage 22, Valerie and I worked on the latissimus dorsi.

Massage Breakdown



As a Massage Therapist cont...  




Massage 19 | Day 19

One consistent movement that is almost transparent in day to day activities is grasping objects. In particular we’re talking about having tension on your arms and using your hands to hang on to what ever you might be carrying or hanging from. All this grasping, (some might say I’m grasping for a topic for this post), stresses out the anterior of your forearms. In massage 19, I had Valerie show these movers and shakers some love.

Massage Breakdown

Perform the following on each forearm separately

Apply pressure via thumbs and work around the forearm area searching for tight muscle groups. You will have found them when you feel as if you are plucking a guitar string.

Apply a kneading motion, pertrasauge to the tight areas you found. Also move up and down the arm to insure no section is left untouched

With both hands grasp the arm (making a heart shape) and use your finger tips to knead and apply pressure to center of the anterior forearm

Focus some attention on the origins of the muscles, ie by the elbow. These areas will be rife with muscles that need some guitar string picking.*

Lay the arm flat on a surface, break out the NMT elbow and apply pressure with your body to acute locations that you located earlier as tight.

Switch sides.

*Note: Valerie stuck my ulnar nerve on my right arm which sent hot static like sparks of nerve pain to my pinky and ring finger. I had to ask her to stop working close to the origin on my right arm as a result, it felt bad and I didn’t like it so we moved on.

Massage Takeaway

It is possible to apply similar massaging techniques to the anterior of your forearm via a lacrosse ball. However, it will not be possible to apply the same intensity pressure as a massage therapist will. But it will be sufficient for a short term fix.

Massage 20 | Day 20

Day 20 of 30 started off pretty good, and just kept roll’n. No major soreness to speak off. General tight hamstrings were noticed, but just from common office related strains (standing, sitting, ect). So in preparation for a workout after business hours that was going to heavily utilize Toes 2 Bar, I turned Valerie loose on my Hamstrings once again. The thought being the extra range of motion would be a benefit.

Massage Breakdown

Starting with surface friction to bring blood flow to the surface

Pertrasauge to locate any trigger points or areas of tenderness

Once located apply Myofascial Release across the tripper point areas

Finishing off with kick-ass NMT (neuromuscular therapy) from the elbow, applying sustained pressure for upwards of 30 seconds

Massage Takeaway

This massage session was conceived to be preemptive. Tackling a major muscle group before it became a problem.  Interesting to note, there were no pain screaming sensations during the NMT elbow application. Quite pleasant actually, it looks as though The Rub Down is making an noticable difference.



Self Massage - Lacrosse Ball

The humble lacrosse ball. Originally designed to be used in a field game that incorporated body checking, stick with nets/scoops to hurdle the ball across the field. Thankfully here at CubeSapien we have liberated the lowly lacrosse ball from the pain and torture that they endure at the hands of lacrosse players and have tasked them with the noble cause of office massage releasing tension and trigger points.

But why the Lacrosse Ball? Any ball really would due, the ball is just a device that can apply various levels of acute pressure. The pinnacle of massage application is the human hand, being both supple and direct the hand is capable of apply any manner of pressure and massage techniques. The massage ball you select is just an attempt to simulate the hand.

Various balls are capable of providing different pressures to the body, The smaller the ball the more acute the pressure. The larger the ball the broader the area the pressure is applied across.  The softness vs firmness of the ball determines the amount of pressure that will be applied to the body.

A super ball will provide less pressure than a golf ball but the same ability to direct the pressure to specific areas. A tennis ball will provide a much broader area of pressure than the super ball and probably decrease the pressure being applied as well. For more tender muscles select a softer bigger ball. For areas that are just plain stubborn or difficult to get the kind of massage you are looking for select a firmer smaller ball.

Generally, not many people will be able to stand the pressure a golf ball provides. Similarly not many people will get any relief from a tennis ball. But the lacrosse ball ends to just be right, to really dig into the areas that need to be massage, released, stretched, stripped, ect.

Ultimately what ever ball helps you achieve the result you are looking for is the right one for your. It is recommended that you start light and broad and work your way to the stiffer and smaller balls allowing you more control over the comfort vs massage technique you desire to get.

Massage 17 | Day 17

Up to this point, muscle groups were not repeated unless there was a specific dire need to do so. This trend will continue in massage 17 as Valerie tackled a area not previously adjusted. Welcome to the four muscles at the back of the neck and the wonderful levator scapulae (pictured), often tight and a commonly tense areas from daily stress this massage touched on all of them.

Massage Breakdown

  • Laying facedown, the massage therapist will address this area from above your head as you are laying down.
  • They will begin with some petrasge (just like a cat’s kneading) to the back of the neck.
  • There is a tendon running up from your shoulders to the base of your skull, have the therapist apply strong myofascial pressure along this tendon, both in the up and down directions.
  • A combination of effleurage and deep pressure should be used to identify the stiffer more contracted.
  • Once identified apply NMT (neuromuscular Therapy) pressure, which is very strong and sustained, to the muscles identified*.
  • Moving on to the “Levator Scapulae”, which runs from the base of the skull down to the scapula (shoulder blade), bring your hand to the middle of your spine between your scapula. This will activate the muscle and make it more prominent for the therapist to manipulate
  • Have the therapist apply NMT level pressure to the “Levator Scapulae”

Massage Takeaway

There is often a tremendous amount of tension that can be built up in this region. Particularly for office workers, who often hold a shrugged posture for many hours. I experienced quite a bit of discomfort getting these areas massaged, so much that deep deliberate breathing (in through the nose out through the mouth) was critical. I also experienced referral pain above my right eye socket, something to realize is a normal part of the process. Also quite unexpected, was the amount of imbalance my right and left side held. The right side being considerably more tense and more sensitive during my massage.

Massage 18 | Day 18

In order to effect you unstoppable will on the world you have to use your hands. It is a requirement for the human beings to use their hands, by manipulating tools and applying our strength to the environment, the rubber hits the road when our hands do the work.

If you take a second to look at your hands and compare them to your thighs, you will notice one very obvious fact. The hands are not nearly as muscular and far dainty than your legs. Because of the fine motor skills that must be employed to manipulate tools having big meaty hands just wouldn’t be an evolutionary advantage. However strength is still a requirement, to have strong yet capable hands the muscles that actuate our fingers are located in the forearms. The forearm muscles transfer the force they produce to the fingers via a complex series of tendons and ligaments. Massage 18 focuses on the forearm muscles as a way to address grip and finger fatigue.

Massage Breakdown

  • Right out of the gate Myofascial Release applied both along the length of the arm (longitudinally) and crosswise (laterally). Expect to have some pulling on the skin if done properly
  • Switching to deep effleurage, which is just intense pressure over the entire area applied with a hand as apposed to light pressure of the acute pressure of NMT
  • Now lay on the NMT, this can be done via an elbow or knuckle to the top of the forearm. Warning: It will hurt.
  • Switch sides

Massage Takeaway

The forearm gets used far more than is expected in an office setting. Think of how many keystrokes are typed per hour, how many feet the mice of the office travel in a day! The forearm is actuating all of those movements. An interesting thing to try while this region is being massage: try to move your fingers, especially during the NMT phase. Mostly the pressure will completely immobilize at least one or two fingers from morning.





Refering Pain

Imagine if you will, laying on a table while the massage therapist goes to work. Not one of your relaxing Swedish massages but one of the hardcore myofascial – nails digging into the table, gritting teeth, ready to run for your hills kind of massage. But while the massage therapist is grinding away on the trigger point in your lower back or in your trapezius you feel another pain somewhere the therapist isn’t working. The pain could be in the knee if they were working the lower body, or could be a pain in your forehead if they are working on your neck or upper body. This is referring pain. 

Common examples of referred pain are headaches, sinus pain, and the kind of pain in the neck that won’t let you turn your head. Jaw pain, earache, and sore throat can also be expressions of referred pain. Another is the incapacitating stitch in the side that comes from running too hard. - The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook

What exactly causes reference pain? This is a little hard to discern. But you can make some conclusions just in knowing there are a finite number of nerves throughout the body. Think of the nervous system similar to that of an internet network, at least in the way that there is a limited bandwidth for the data (pain signals). That’s pretty much where the analogy ends. When the body signals get to large from a particular area (Trigger Point) the signal can bleed over the nerves that normally belong to a different part of the body. So, as the pain from a Trigger Point increases and passes a certain threshold (the chemical receptors of the nerve cells become saturated) all the bandwidth for that signal is used up and spills over into the bandwidth that another part of the body, effectively referring the pain to an area that is not being massaged.

Massage 15 | Day 15

I did it to myself. It’s what every person that goes to a massage therapist should say, and the one thing that no one does. But today I did it to myself. Some of you may be aware that the very first experiment CubeSapien highlighted was for Standing@Work. In that experiment, a guide to correct standing posture was highlighted. A posture practice that would avoid any back pain caused from over extension. Today I ignored the correct posture and low and behold lower lumbar pain. And as I soon discovered that pain was caused by the quadratus lumborum. Valerie fixed this.

Massage Breakdown

  • Horizontal Friction/Rubbing to increase blood flow
  • Vertical friction/rubbing around the spinal column
  • Work one side at a time (right side of spine or left)
  • Direct pressure to locate Trigger Points*
  • NMT (Neuromuscular Therapy - Acute Compression on Trigger Points)*
  • Switch sides

*A note on how much pressure to use on the lower back. This area is generally very dense full of tendon and muscle apply through a knuckle or supported finger. Be wary of straying too far way from the spin as the kidneys are nearby and are susceptible to damage.

Massage Takeaway

Yes I did it to myself, and following these tips I can avoid this issue in the future. But if it does happen again, some massage therapy will fix the problems I give myself.

Massage 16 | Day 16

Massage 16 was an interesting massage. This message didn’t focus on a pre-existing issue that needed fixing, it was more of an exploration to see what could really be done. The muscle group was the Psoas Major, which is one half of the hip flexor. The hip flexor is incredibly useful and incredibly problematic especially for the CubeSapien. Adopting a sitting position for extended periods, whether driving a desk or driving a truck, will cause the hip flexor to become shortened. This adaptation is problematic when trying to get full hip extensions either at the top of a box jump, air/back squat, wall ball. Every movement that doesn’t open up the hip fully prevents you from transferring your full performance potential to the movement.

The Psoas Major is only one half of the hip flexor, the other half is the iliacus. The difference being the psoas travels across two (multiple) major joints, from the spin to the femur, while the iliacus attaches from the inside of the hip/pelvic bone to the femur. The Psoas is providing stabilizing characteristics and contributes to maintaining lumbar curve.

Massage Breakdown

****WARNING: do not attempt this without a licensed massage therapist, without knowledge of how to access the Psoas Major liver damage can result.

  • Starting of the right side.
  • Laying on your back, have the therapist begin by apply pressure and creating internal friction around the edge of the hip bone. This targets the iliacus
  • Raise the right foot up closer to your butt, with the same side arm raised over head, have the massage therapist begin by applying pressure from the side of your torso to the center moving the liver over and exposing the psoas major.
  • With pressure being applied to the psoas lift your leg slightly, this activates the psoas and is easier for the therapist to identify and apply the appropriate pressure.
  • Go through multiple leg lifts and compressive sessions with the massage therapist creating small motions over the psoas during the leg raises. This type of massage is best described as PNF combined with internal friction.
  • Repeat for the opposite side, keeping in mind the left isn’t as sensitive as the liver is primarily on the right. 

Massage Takeaway

It is possible acutely massage the hip flexor, having a massage therapist work the psoas major and the iliacus individually tackles both components of the hip flexors. i do not believe this is the best technique to address soreness in the hip flexors, but it is effective if range of motion is limited. If you are experiencing “closed” or “short” hip extension because of excessive sitting try the couch stretch, it’s a personal favorite.