Muscle spasms feel like hard lumps in the muscle tissue. You can feel them on another person's back with your finger tips. Feeling your own muscle spasms with your hands is a bit more awkward, due to their location in back of you. With the massage stick you can reach them, and work on them to make them go away.
By applying pressure with the massage stick "finger", holding it for a while, releasing pressure, and repeating the cycle several times you can actually relax the muscle spasms. Eventually, they soften up and stop causing pain.
The PVC pipe is filled with sand, heated and bent to make the bow shape. The curve makes the stick more comfortable to hold while applying pressure with the finger.
The silicone rubber finger is built around a nail, so it has rigidity for pressing, yet the tip is soft. It does a great job. This is something that everybody with a back should know about.
Step 1: Safety While Heating PVC
Vinyl Chloride, one of the components of PVC, is carcinogenic. When it is locked up in the polymer, however, it is much safer to be around. In my years of experience working with PVC, I have not noticed any adverse effects on my health from being around it.
Always work in areas with good ventilation. If you do get caught in a cloud of smoke, hold your breath and move to clean air.
When heating PVC with a gas stove or propane torch, try not to let it burn. Smoke from burning PVC is bad. With experience one burns it less and less. Don't panic the first time you do burn some. It scorches, but doesn't immediately burst into flame. Move the material away from the flame and try again. Don't breathe the smoke. Smoke avoidance comes naturally for most people.
While heating PVC over a gas flame, keep the plastic an appropriate distance from the flame to avoid scorching the surface before the inside can warm up. It takes time for heat to travel to the center of the material being heated.
Keep the plastic moving, and keep an eye on the state of the plastic. When heated, the PVC material is flexible, like leather. Beyond this stage, you risk scorching it.
A word from James, the plastic engineer -- "Just a word of warning, PVC can handle some high heats but if it catches fire, you wont be able to put it out, it does not need oxygen to burn so don't do this inside".
I do work inside, but my house is made of cement and has good ventilation. MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE GOOD VENTILATION. PLAY WITH FIRE -- CAREFULLY.
Step 2: Fill the Pipe With Sand
When you heat and bend PVC pipe without a temporary fill material inside it, the pipe will tend to pinch closed at the bend. Sand keeps the inside of the pipe open, and makes the finished bend stronger.
Step 3: Heat and Bend the Pipe
Bend the pipe on the floor, so the curve hardens up in one plane. You can just wait for it to air cool and rigidify again, or you can speed cooling with water.
When the pipe cools, remove the tape from the ends and tap it repeatedly to knock out the sand inside.
Step 4: Drill Hole. Drive Nail.
Step 5: Build Up the Finger
Keep the string or rope saturated with silicone as you wind it around the nail. I flatten the silicone at the tip of the finger a little bit for comfort.
Step 6: Using the Stick
Mix the massage stick with a little yoga and you've got a great combination for keeping the body flexible and pain-free.