My toolkit to self-release tight muscles

Those who know about my situation, most likely have heard that I do a lot of self-massage/stretches (a few hours a day at least). Good news is that I finally managed to regain good amount of my neck and spine’s mobility about four-five months since starting this. It’s fantastic to wake up in the morning and feel that neck isn’t painfully, totally stiff. It’s a brilliant feeling when body now starts attempting to relax and do some “muscle twitches” before falling asleep…

Here in the pic is my “toolkit” that I use for massage. If I had to choose most important and helpful things for me, they would be:

  • “anatomy of moving body” book
  • “double-lacrosse” massage ball
  • soft “lacrosse” massage ball (the small red rubber “basketball”)
  • long, medium-soft foam roller
  • thick, soft yoga/exercise mat (I use two-three of them one on top of each other depending on what ball is used, to make it softer)
  • soft, low profile orthopedic pillow with “cavity” for head and neck
  • 4 lb sandbags
  • google, wikipedia, physiopedia, radiopedia, youtube
  • lots of hope and self-determination

Happy, pain-free holidays everyone


Glad that it’s helping after all your research & determination! Nothing like in your league, but I do neck exercises & use a spiky massage ball which are really helpful!
And hoping for a pain free Christmas for you too!

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Did you have styloid surgery as well, or planning too?

@hyperichard I dropped you a private message

Nice “arsenal”, @vdm! I have quite an array of balls, foam rollers, stretchy & non-stretchy bands, yoga mats, weights & a few books, but unlike yours, mine mostly sit unused (except for when I take a mat Pilates class here & there). You are a huge inspiration w/ your determination & consistency & all the more because you’ve stuck it out until you’ve gotten results that are life changing for you.

I shall press on to work on shoulder & neck tension, & glute & core strength for my upcoming hip surgery & will think of you as my accountability partner. :wink:


thank you for sharing this. I am ordering the lacrosse balls and am adding some smaller squash balls for self massage as well. a lot of these items are already in my “toolkit”. It is a good reminder that even with surgery that there is likely chronic muscle tension so anything we can do to reduce tension helps. very helpful and refreshing to see posts like this

A couple of recommendations:


@bmcdiddie could you post a pic of the cradle you use? I found many different types online, not sure what is a cradle and what’s not.

As for lacrosse balls, I found one cheap kit on amazon (vanfit brand, but no relationship with them - it was just the cheapest one). What I like about it was double-lacrosse ball, normal one, spiky ball and a ball in a plastic encasing which rotates freely inside:


sure thing:
thank you for tip on the kit!


Another very useful tool to my “home gym kit”.
True, it takes some space in the living room, but the health is more important. Also, it can be used as a chair too.
Nothing fancy as for exercises using it - just lying on top of the ball supine with my back curved and arms spread apart, trying to relax, for a few minutes, then on my belly, arms relaxed “hugging” the ball, neck relaxed allowing the head “hang down” for a few minutes.

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I whole-heartedly endorse the balance/fitness ball!! One important thing though, you need to get one that is the right diameter for your height especially if you’ll be using it for a chair. Here is a short informational video on choosing ball size:

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So often misunderstood, the Fascia and all the musculature in how they interplay with literally everything in life, whether or not one is suffering from Eagle Syndrome, but especially chronic pain.

I have preached to my family, and friends about how invaluable it is to be able to self-massage out muscle knots and muscle tension. A tense muscle will put pressure on joints, and if too much tension exists for too long, you get pain, and even sometimes inflammation.

I have a massage therapist I see during my worst flare-ups for deep tissue massage, and she has been immeasurably helpful. I actually saw her today, and it was night and day, with how much clarity I had after my tense neck and shoulders were loosened!

A good many of our chronic pain can be managed with proper treatment of those nasty muscle knots!!

That being said, I need to get me one of those shoulder-hook thingies for my trapezius muscles, and back of neck, cause my worst flare-ups from this condition are definitely tied in with my muscles having to compensate for my abnormal anatomy. haha.


Very well said, Ice_dragon. There is much we can do for ourselves as far as helping tight muscles relax but there is also great benefit in seeing a knowledgeable massage therapist. Glad you recognize these approaches to self help!

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I think I reached “next” level but not sure if I like it. My ribcage suddenly “unlocked” with lots of snapping, cracking, banging and rattling. I suspect there was some rib joint stuck for years… But now the whole spine feels… Too loose. Like every single vertebrae was dry and tied together with a rope…
Hopefully that’s just a temporary state. Wouldn’t like to have this instability.

Doesn’t sound good, hope that settles down soon :crossed_fingers:


My thought on your back is that since your muscles were held in tension over some years, & are now being re-educated into more proper function, it may take a bit of time for you to feel like they’re being supportive. Additionally, you’re not used to being as mobile as you’ve become so that in itself may be adding to the sensation that your spine is too loose. Your new spinal mobility may be something you need to get used to.

I have gone to chiropractors since the early 1990s, & my lumbar spine is now hyper mobile & cracks/pops a lot when I’m doing abdominal workouts & some types of stretches. It doesn’t hurt, but it does feel strange. I can’t blame the chiropractic care for this but wonder if it’s contributed to it.

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Sorry if this question has been answered somewhere else but I couldn’t find it. Is there any explanation for how ES causes really tight muscles in the neck?

For myself, I’ve always presumed it’s because of the pain from irritated nerves, so you get tense, that causes pain with the muscles (which can trap nerves causing more pain)…a vicious circle! And if certain head positions cause pain, you might be holding yourself awkwardly to protect yourself, which can then cause tense muscles…

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The accessory nerve is one of the nerves which can get irritated by elongated styloids. It innervates muscles in the neck & shoulders which follows what Jules said. When nerves become irritated, muscles tense up to protect & help support each other & it becomes a vicious cycle.