A Beginner’s Guide to DIY Massage for Back Pain Relief

Written by: Chris

Updated on:

Feel Peak is a reader supported site. We may earn a commission when you make purchases through products we link to. This does not impact our editorial policy which you can read here.

It’s been a long day–maybe even a long week or month–and your back is killing you. There have been a million stressors and every one of them seems to have found a spot to settle in on your back, neck, and shoulders. With everything you had to do, it’s a miracle you’re still standing even though you’re tired, hunched, and dragging your feet. Good posture went out the window hours ago, compounding the aches and pains in your poor back.

We can’t all go home to our personal masseuse but there is something we can do for ourselves. Welcome to the beginner’s guide to a DIY back massage for pain relief!

Why Does My Back Hurt?

A young woman in her bed suffering with a bad back

There are a myriad of reasons why you’re experiencing this pain. Stress is one reason but the leading reason is simply posture.

Whether you’re sitting at a desk, constantly bending over for work, frequently checking your phone, working out at the gym, going on a run, or just trying to relax at the end of a long day, poor posture (in these activities and more) can and will lead to back pain. A bit of DIY massage may help to relieve your back pain.

Before You Begin Your Massage

Before you start your massage, there are a few things you can do to prepare your muscles that will make the massage more enjoyable and effective.

Relax: Make sure you are relaxed. Take a shower or use a heated cloth/pad to warm and loosen your muscles, change into comfortable clothes, and go somewhere without distractions.

Stretch: Gently stretch the areas that are causing you pain and discomfort. There are a variety of stretches that are excellent for targeting specific muscle groups. Whether you’re experiencing pain in your shoulders, neck, upper back, lower back, or entire back… there’s a stretch for that!

Breathe: Before and during your massage, it’s important to always focus on having deep, controlled, breathing.

How to Perform a DIY Back Massage

Now that you’ve prepared yourself to do your own body massage, you can begin! Below are three easy massage techniques to help relieve back pain and muscle aches.

Tennis Ball

A tennis ball can be used to massage your shoulders, upper back, lower back, and everywhere in between. How to use a tennis ball for a DIY back massage is fairly simple.

  • Lay on your back or stand against a wall (whatever will keep you most relaxed).
  • Position the tennis ball so that it is between your back and the wall/floor on the area that is causing pain and discomfort.
  • Gently press your body against the tennis ball, moving back and forth, up and down, and in circular motions against the ball targeting those sore muscles.
  • For particularly isolated areas, position the ball directly on the knotted muscle and apply pressure until you can feel relief.
  • Any given area massaged using the tennis ball should only receive about five minutes of massage.

Foam Rollers

If you’re an athlete that’s experienced tight and sore muscles, chances are that you’ve used or know what a foam roller is. It’s excellent for working out tight muscles from long runs and workouts. It also makes a really good DIY back massager.

A woman massaging her own back with a foam roller
  • Lay on your back on the floor with the foam roller underneath your lower back.
  • With your weight resting on the foam roller, gently roll your body over the roller.
  • Continue rolling so that it moves up and down your lower back until you feel relief in the affected area.

Hands and Fingers

Your own hands and fingers are best used to reach the sensitive upper back/shoulder and neck area.

  • Using the same motions as with the tennis ball, use your fingers to massage the areas causing pain and experiencing soreness.
  • Hold pressure on stubborn spots until you feel relief.
  • To avoid further muscle tension, use your right arm to massage the right side of your shoulders/neck and your left hand for the left.

When Not to do a DIY back massage

While DIY back massages can offer relaxation and pain relief for many people, there are certain situations where it is not advisable. Here are some examples of when a self-massage isn’t recommended:

Acute injury: If you have recently injured your back, it is best to seek professional medical help first. Attempting to give yourself a massage could worsen the injury.

Infection or skin conditions: If you have an infection or skin condition on your back, it is important to avoid touching or massaging the affected area as this could spread the infection or worsen the condition.

Osteoporosis: If you have osteoporosis, it is important to avoid any deep tissue massage or intense pressure on your back as this could cause further damage and pain to your bones.

Cancer: If you have cancer, it is important to seek advice from your doctor before attempting any type of massage as it could interfere with your treatment or cause complications.

Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, it is important to be cautious with massage and only seek the advice of a qualified prenatal massage therapist, as certain techniques and pressure points could be harmful to the developing baby.

In general, if you are unsure about whether a DIY back massage is safe for you, it is always best to seek advice from a medical professional.


Remember, so much of the aches and pain we feel in our back can be prevented. The same goes for your thighs, legs, and feet.

Below are some of the ways you can do that:

Maintain good posture: Sit and stand up straight to maintain the natural curve of your spine. Avoid slouching or hunching forward for prolonged periods.

Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help strengthen your back muscles and improve your overall posture. Try low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or yoga. When doing exercises, always put on a proper foot wear.

Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put added strain and tension on your back muscles and spine. Start a healthier diet and exercise.

Use proper lifting techniques: When lifting heavy objects, bend at your knees and use your legs instead of your back to lift. Avoid twisting your body while lifting to prevent injury and muscle strain.

Practice stress reduction techniques: Stress can cause tension in your back muscles, leading to pain. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress levels.


Doing your own relaxing massage at home is always a nice thing. It’s free and convenient since you can always do it whenever needed. However, you should take note that even though there are different DIY massage techniques you can do, they can’t be used for pain management alone.

If you continue to experience soreness and pain even after the massages, don’t think twice about seeing your doctor.

Disclaimer: The content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Affiliate disclosure: We participate in affiliate programs, including Amazon Associates and others. We may earn
commissions on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Your support helps maintain our site. Thank you!