How two Aspenites found their cure for pain

Kelly J. Hayes for the Aspen Times Weekly

If you go….

Here House

614 E. Cooper Ave. (next to LOCAL, behind Mezzaluna)

More info and memberships at

Here House is open to the public for Sunday Brunch and the following Wellness Wednesday events:

• March 4: John Hughes, “What to do about Chronic Pain: Surgery & Medicine Alternatives”

• March 11: Lost Range CBD, “CBD 101: What you need to know to make it work for you”

• March 18: John Hughes, “How to Heal Your Brain: Concussion, Dementia, PTSD & Depression”

About vibe rollers

Vibe Rollers range price from $85 to $150.

Product info and sales at

See the complete line in person at O2Aspen.

408 S. Mill St.

Aspen Colorado

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Trey Barnes, a massage therapist at the O2 studio, offers a session that incorporates the use of the CBD creams, the Vibe Roller and Myo-Pro Plus.

Pain. It is the loose thread that can be the snag in our bespoke Aspen lifestyle.

Most of us feel a bit of the unraveling each day. I’m not talking about the deep pain from intense injury or illness. But rather, the almost-always-there tightness in our lower back that comes from picking up toddlers or walking a hard-charging dog. It’s that pull in the calves as we begin our daily run or put on ski boots. Or even that seizing catch in the back of the neck or shoulders when we ever-so-slightly move the wrong way while sitting with our heads buried in our digital devices.

The fact is, our lifestyles, especially for those of us who take the leap from our sedentary workplace into the active outdoors without thought or appropriate stretching, can take its toll. And pain is the price.

“The science of injuries is the same whether they occur at work or at play,” says Bill Fabrocini, a longtime local orthopedic therapist. “Repetitive strain injuries result from spending too much time doing the same thing over and over, whether it’s running every day or sitting for hours at a computer. Low back pain can result as easily from poor posture as it can from an injury. Even if you don’t think you are doing something that can create soft-tissue injuries, you likely are doing so with the things you do everyday.”

On a recent evening in Here House, the clubhouse/shared work facility/coffeehouse/community center tucked into a Cooper Street courtyard behind Mezzaluna, a small crowd of locals and visitors gathered for a Wellness Wednesdays discussion (see “Wellness Wednesdays,” page 13). Fabrocini and Aspen local David Mills — partners in the production of the revolutionary, Aspen-created, therapeutic healing devices under the “Vibe Roller” moniker — came to make a presentation on “Hidden Health Dangers in The Workplace.”

As mundane as the title may sound, Fabrocini’s talk was a clarion call that we all need to engage in realistic options to treat and relieve the neck aches, sore backs, poor sleep and lack of focus that are well-documented symptoms of our digital age. People, like us, who work on digital screens for more than four consecutive hours a day are five times more likely to develop both short-term and long-term chronic pain.

But, by using some relatively simple techniques and modalities with the Vibe Roller, it is possible to open connections in our muscular system, alleviating day-to-day pain and putting our bodies into optimum condition for both work and play.


As a therapist, Fabrocini is all about fascia, the membrane of connective tissue under our skin that is responsible for attaching, stabilizing and enclosing our muscles and internal organs.

“Think of fascia as a soft skeleton, ‘the organ of form,’” he told the Here House crowd as he enthusiastically clicked through a series of PowerPoint images illustrating the way our muscles are wrapped by the collagen-based material.

In his visual presentation, Fabrocini emphasized that our daily activities counteract the triad of posture, mobility and stability that is so crucial to maintaining a healthy infrastructure.

“The human head weighs around 12 pounds,” he instructed as he showed a photo of a man leaning his head over a cellphone. “But, when you are hunched over at a 60-degree angle, looking at your mobile device, your head can put a 60 lbs. of strain on your neck.”

Think of hanging a backpack on your neck every time you check your phone.

“And how often do you check your phone like that each day?” he asked.

Fabrocini pointed out that the repetitive motions we do every day in the workplace — the constant typing, the slouching as we sit in front of a screen, even the way we tuck our legs under us, all contribute to creating “islands of compression in our fascia and muscles.” They twist and knot the fascia in ways that restrict our range of motion. And when that happens, we are ripe for injury.

“A major computer project can put as much strain and wear and tear on a worker’s body as running a marathon might on an athlete’s body,” Fabrocini emphasized with emotion. “The repetition can make all of us, office workers and athletes, susceptible. Then one morning we wake up with shoulder pain and think we must have slept wrong, but the truth is that damage to the fascia has been building and that pain is just the natural end point.”



Handsome, trim and athletic, you wouldn’t think by looking at David Mills that he would have issues with pain. But the endurance athlete (top 100 finisher in the Spartan Games World Championships in 2017) and trail runner became obsessed through his training with trying to find ways to enhance recovery and improve his performance.

“A few years ago I began to experiment with different modalities to loosen my muscles and fascia,” he explained in his British-tinged accent (he was raised in Ipswich, England, and graduated from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England’s West Point). “I tried using tennis balls and roller devices, but I really felt that vibration was the key.”

He came up the concept of creating a silicone-wrapped, peanut-shaped device with a depression in the center that would vibrate using a battery-powered motor. “By placing the device directly upon a muscle, the pressure and vibration increase blood flow at that point, increase elasticity in the fascia and activates the neurological system,” he explained.

The Vibe Roller was born.

Over the last four years, Mills has worked to perfect his Vibe Roller products (which are produced in China), while partnering with Fabrocini to educate the public about the value of using pressure in conjunction with vibration to help heal the body’s “soft skeleton,” the fascia. From his home in Aspen, where he lives with his wife Danielle and 15-month-old son Archer, Mills has devoted his professional life to the development of the Aspen Vibe line.

The roller is designed to be used for 10 to 20 minutes per day, depending upon an individual’s routine. It operates at three different speeds, ranging from 20 to 50 pulses per second. Slower and you’ll achieve a release of the muscle you target, faster and you’ll be activating the muscle and the surrounding fascia. If you have a pressure point in your shoulder, you may want to push the Vibe Roller end directly on that point. If you are using it prior to running or skiing, you might roll it down the backs of your calves or on your quads to loosen them before exercise. But the impacts of a session working the lower back while lying on the floor or against a wall is the holy grail for some users.

At the Wellness Wednesday event, when Mills opened a box full of Vibe Hex Pros and Vibe Peanuts and passed them around the room, you could audibly hear the oohs and ahhs as the attendees turned them on and placed the vibrating devices on trigger spots on their bodies.

“There is definitely a ‘wow’ factor when people experience the Vibe for the first time,” Mills said.

Feeling a sore spot or tight spot begin to melt and open up within seconds can definitely be a revelation.

“Think of the fascia like a roll of pizza dough,” Fabrocini explained. “You know how when you pick it up it’s firm and kind of sticky? But when you beat it up and throw it on the counter it becomes loose and pliable? That’s what the vibration is doing to the fascia; it is making it loose and pliable. You want your fascia to be springy and bouncy and a session with the Vibe Roller will do just that.”

Jim Marolda, a certified trainer and bartender (he can be found at the Maroon Creek Club in the daytime and Matsuhisa in the evenings) extolled the benefits of using the roller with regularity: “I work with all kinds of clients from younger athletes to 70-year-old skiers. Whenever I introduce them to a session with the Vibe Roller, people are just amazed. I have one woman client who is 74 who told me she uses one every day before skiing.”

Mills has recently launched a new product, called Myo-Pro Plus, which is a more directed, gun shaped, percussion massager. It provides direct pulsations on specific hot spots and deep-tissue stimulation. And the company is also partnering with a Steamboat Springs producer of CBD creams and oils, Lost Range, that are made to alleviate pain. When used in combination, Mills believes the creams and the technology will provide maximum opportunity for release and rejuvenation of the fascia.

While he is amping up marketing and production of the Vibe Roller products and the other offerings, Mills’ passion for healing remains at the core of his mission. As he stood in the afterglow of the Wellness Wednesday presentation passing out products purchased by the attendees, he smiled. “You know, I like selling these but what I really am happy about is that they help people. I really just want to help people in pain feel better. That’s what this is all about. Sure I am making a living, but I am working four times harder than I thought.”

He paused and then repeated softly, almost to himself: “I really just want to help people in pain feel better.” •

Aspen Times Weekly

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