You can take an active role in controlling your back pain with a DIY massage, which is available to you any time for little to no cost.
To help get you started, here are 3 tips to enhance your DIY massage for lower back pain:
1. Use ice to massage a recent injury
Incorporating ice into your DIY massage is particularly beneficial during the first 48 hours following a lower back injury, such as a painful back muscle strain. This is because ice inhibits both the inflammation and swelling that occurs after an injury, and it also numbs your sore tissues.
Applying an ice massage is easy, as you simply need to follow the steps below:
- Begin by freezing a small paper cup of water. Once frozen, peel away a small portion of the top of the cup to expose the ice.
- Next, place a thin cloth over the cup to protect yourself from ice burns.
- Lying on your stomach, gently apply the ice in a 6-inch area around the location of your pain.
- Limit the application of the ice to 10 to 15 minutes, but you can perform a DIY ice massage multiple times per day.
As a bonus tip, applying gentle pressure during the massage may help loosen your tight lower back muscles. Following the first couple of days, a DIY massage may be best paired with heat therapy.
2. Incorporate magnesium oil
Magnesium is a mineral that aids your muscles in contracting and relaxing, and is integral to muscle health. Adding magnesium to your DIY massage is a simple and inexpensive way to enhance the experience.
Here are a few ideas of how to incorporate magnesium into your DIY massage:
- Consider massaging your back while sitting in a bath filled with Epsom Salt, which is rich in magnesium.
- Apply magnesium oil following a shower and before a DIY massage. Your skin will more effectively absorb magnesium following exposure to warm water.
- Coat a hand-held back massager with a thin layer of magnesium oil; but make sure to check that liquids won't ruin your device.
If topical application of magnesium isn’t ideal for you, some benefit may still be achieved by regularly ingesting foods rich in magnesium. These include fruits, beans, soy products, and whole grains.
3. Utilize a foam roller for your upper back pain
A foam roller is inexpensive, but it can be invaluable when it comes to a DIY back massage.
If your upper back is your problem area, here is a simple foam roller routine you can perform at home or the office:
- Begin by lying on the foam roller so it is roughly in the middle of your back. Your feet need to be flat on the ground and your knees bent.
- Place your hands behind your head, and slowly roll the foam roller towards your head.
- Stop when you reach the painful area, and slowly move back and forth over it.
- You can perform this exercise for 30 seconds, and then move on to the next painful area.
As a general rule, avoid using a foam roller on your lower back without first consulting your doctor; as it may aggravate your symptoms.
It is important to note that massage therapy, DIY or otherwise, is not the right treatment for every instance of lower back pain. If the cause of your lower back pain is unknown, consult with your physician prior to beginning a new massage regimen.