a woman is massaging back at home

Do you suffer from back pain? If so, self-massage can be a great way to relieve the tension in your muscles and get relief.

Massaging yourself has many benefits for your health and is an easy way to help with common problems like stress, headaches, insomnia, neck pain, lower back pain, and more.

This article will outline how to massage your own back at home step by step. We will discuss what supplies are needed as well as the benefits of self-massaging!

Self-massage tools for back pain 

If you want to give yourself a massage for back pain, the following tools can be used (you don’t need all of these items, just use what is available and choose a suitable method for the tool you have):

  • A tennis ball or massage ball
  • A foam roller
  • Pillows, blankets, towels for added support, comfort, and warmth.
  • Massage oil to help your skin glide easily across the muscles being massaged. For a dry massage, you can use lotion instead of oil. Lotion is typically preferred by people with sensitive skin because it doesn't have as many ingredients in it. (Lotions usually only contain water and emulsifying agents)
  • A back massager machine - read our review of the best back massager models.

How do you do an upper back massage step by step? 

Pain in your upper back is usually caused by a muscle strain or sprain. It can also be brought on by having the same position for too long, such as sitting in your car for a long time.

To do an upper back massage step by step with hands only:

a woman is massaging by herself
  • Begin at the base of the neck and work up to the top then back again
  • Use thumbs, knuckles, fingers together with palms of hands
  • Work on one section at a time and then move to the next section
  • Make sure you are using both hands to avoid putting more pressure on one side than another
  • The next stage is working outwards from the spine towards the shoulder blades, applying light pressure all over the area with alternating hands
  • Apply moderate pressure and use circular motions until you reach the shoulders
  • Repeat it on the other side

To perform a self-massage on your upper back with a tennis ball, follow these steps:

  • Position yourself against a wall facing outside. Place a tennis or massage ball between the top part of your right shoulder and spine
  • Lean back a bit by bending slightly at the waist to let the wall hold the ball against your upper right shoulder
  • Start rotating your arm and shoulder to allow the ball to massage the area. If you feel a point where the back pain is stronger, hold the ball for 20-30 seconds while pressing on it
  • Repeat the process on the other side
  • You can also follow the same steps while lying down on a carpet or towel instead of leaning against a wall

Alternatively, if you have a foam roller:

a man is massaging by himself
  • Lie down while positioning the foam roller just under your shoulder blades
  • Raise your hip and gently roll your body up and down while bending your knees until you feel the easing of the back pain

Perhaps the easiest way to massage your own back is by using an electric back massager machine. These massagers usually come with multiple heads.

Start by selecting one and apply pressure on your back while switching the massager on. Keep experimenting with the different heads until you find the best one that works for you.

How do you massage your own lower back?

The most common reasons for lower back pain are activities that require tight, repetitive movements such as lifting heavy objects or twisting your body for long periods of time.

The below back massage techniques can help to alleviate lower back pain and provide relief from the discomfort.

Lower back massage without equipment:

massage for back pain at home
  • Sit on the floor with a straight back and crossed legs
  • Place your thumbs on each side of the flat triangle-shaped bone at your lower spine. It's called a sacrum
  • Move your thumbs up and down while applying pressure to the area in circular motions
  • Spend extra time on any tense spots
  • Keep moving your thumbs around and repeat the process until the pain eases

Lower back self-massage with a tennis or massage ball

a woman is using tennis ball for massage
  • Lie down flat on a blanket or towel with straight legs
  • Place the tennis or massage ball under your lower back where the pelvis meets the spine
  • Raise your hips slightly and start rolling around letting the ball press on the painful area
  • Keep moving around in circles as well as up and down then left and right until the pain subsides


Which oil is best for back pain? 

peppermint oil on table

The best oil for back pain is usually peppermint oil.

You can also use lavender, lemongrass, or eucalyptus oils for pain relief.

What are the benefits of self-massaging?

Self-massage provides multiple benefits such as improved circulation, better sleep, and reduced tension.

The benefits are usually increased by adding heat to your massage routines such as placing a heated towel on your lower back.

Which massage is best for back pain?

The best massage for back pain is usually a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massage.

You can do self-massage with the same techniques mentioned in this article or you could also find someone to massage your back for you, preferably once per week.

How can I sleep with back pain?

If you need to sleep while experiencing back pain, you can try the following techniques:

best sleeping position
  • Lay on the side of the pain with a pillow between your knees and one below your stomach/hips for support.
  • Bend at the waist until you feel relief in the lower back or hips, then rest there for 30 seconds before straightening back

How often should I get a massage for back pain?

The recommended frequency of getting a massage for back pain depends on the severity of the pain and your personal preferences.

You can get a massage once per week for 30 minutes or you could also just go by how often you’re experiencing back pain episodes and try shorter massage sessions each time.

How should I lay with lower back pain?

This will be a personal preference. You can try sleeping on your back with straight legs and a small pillow under your knees. This will help to ease the tension on your spine.

If this does not work for you, you can try laying on your side and placing the pillow between your knees.

Grant Moore