Back Pain

Massage Tips For Low Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common occurrence for many people. Finding relief can be a challenge, but there’s hope for you yet. Massage therapy can not only provide pain relief, but in some cases even promote healing. If your back pain is caused by back strain, massage can target the right muscles to help control pain for better results and extended relief. Here we offer massage tips for low back pain. (1)

The Trick To Massage For Low Back Pain

When it comes to low back pain you want to target the muscles where they connect to the bone as opposed to where the center of muscle is. This is the best way to stretch it out and relieve the pressure. To help relieve pain you can try one of these self-massage techniques during the day: (2)

Self Massage for Low Back Pain #1:

  • Lie on your back with two tennis balls placed on either side of your spine in the middle of your back.
  • Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Move yourself slowly up and down allowing the balls to roll along your back. 

You can adjust the pressure if it feels painful using your legs. (2)

Self Massage for Low Back Pain #2:

  • Lie on your back with a foam roller beneath you.
  • Put pressure down into the roller targeting the areas where you are experiencing back pain.

You can also see if you feel relief by rolling the foam above or below the pain. (2)

These techniques can help relax your muscles to relieve short-term pain while also increasing blood and lymph flow. (2)

Stretching Massage For Low Back Pain

Pain can be caused by other areas of the body so just focusing on massaging back muscles is often not enough. For example, when the facet joints or other structures in the spine are strained or inflamed, it can lead to spasms of the larger back muscles which in turn can lead to low back pain. That’s why stretching can work as a form of self-massage as it can address several areas of the body to help relieve low back pain. It can be easier for some people to try stretches. You can find some excellent low back pain stretches here. (3)

Massage For Low Back Pain With A Partner

If you or your partner (or friend or family member) suffer from low back pain, you can help alleviate pain using effective massage for low back pain techniques. Have the person lie down on their stomach on a flat surface with a pillow under their chest. Roll two towels and place one under their forehead and the other under their ankles. Apply massage oils to your hands and start working one side of the back following these steps: (2)

  • Place your palms one on top of the other on their back and make circular motions with your hands.
  • Use your thumbs in a circling motion moving down towards their feet making slow strokes from the mid-back down to the hips a few times.
  • Repeat the movements above but this time apply the massage closer to the hips then apply the same process on the other side of the back.

Once both sides are massaged, you can offer further back massage for both sides such as using your fists to gently massage down either side of the spine, not touching the spine down to the hips. You can also try moving your open palms over the mid-back down to the hips and then place a hand on either side of the lower back and move them back and forth. (2)

Ease Low Back Pain With Heat And Cold

Heat and cold can be very helpful when trying to ease low back pain while promoting healing. Each helps in its own way with heat bringing blood to the site troubling you while cold can decrease inflammation and help control pain. You can use the following steps to see the best results: (4)

Heat Therapy

Heat can be applied for small intervals of 15 to 20 minutes, or over two hours depending on the level of pain and type of injury. You can use heat to help relieve pain using one of the following methods: (4)

  • Hot water bottles are good if you just need a short application for under 30 minutes.
  • Electric heating pads are ideal for long levels of heat.  
  • Heated gel packs last about 30 minutes.
  • Heat wraps are ideal when you need a consistent low level of heat great for going to work as they can be worn under clothes.
  • Hot water baths, saunas, spas or steam baths can help reduce spasms and pain while also providing relaxation.
  • Jet spa hot tubs are wonderful as they include gentle massage.

You can try the methods that are accessible for you to see which offers the most relief. (4)

Cold Therapy

Unlike heat therapy, cold therapy is limited to 20 minute intervals. When in pain you can use a 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off method eight to 10 times a day. Cold therapy can be applied in various ways including: (5)

  • Reusable packs are kept in the freezer and can be found at drug stores as well as department stores.
  • You can freeze towels by dampening them with cold water and then putting them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  • Frozen sponges can also be made as above, but place them in a sock or wrap them in a towel before you apply it to your back.
  • Rice or dry bean bags can be frozen in a sock or bag which is a comfortable option as it won’t wet your clothes.
  • Frozen vegetables are an easy option if you happen to have a bag of corn or peas for a quick fix.
  • Just be sure you never apply ice directly to your skin and never use ice longer than 20 minutes.

Living with back pain is never easy, but with the right massage technique you can find relief and help promote healing.  Click here to learn more about managing low back pain.


  1. https://www.spine-health.com/blog/getting-right-massage-low-back-pain
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/back-pain/lower-back-massage#causes-of-pain
  3. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/back-muscles-and-low-back-pain
  4. https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/heat-therapy-cold-therapy/how-apply-heat-therapy
  5. https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/heat-therapy-cold-therapy/ice-packs-back-pain-relief 

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