How Do I Perform a Self-Massage to Relieve Pain?

March 5, 2022

Many people seek out massages not just to relieve tension and relax but also as a means of achieving some pain relief from sports injuries, joint pain or work-related soreness. The type of massage that’s best for relieving your pain is dependent on the source and severity of the pain you’re experiencing.

Unfortunately, getting a massage isn’t always cheap or convenient. It’s difficult to use massages as a regular pain management tool without a standing appointment.

Some people may find self-massages useful for managing pain between doctor appointments. However, these massage techniques are not an effective alternative to professional treatment provided by a trained pain management or orthopaedic doctor.

Potential Self-Massage Techniques for Managing Back Pain

Foam rollers are a relatively cheap self-massage tool popular among people who struggle with low back pain. The technique is relatively simple; you just lie down on the floor with your back on the roller. Then you push your body along the floor, back and forth, with the roller under your back to loosen painful pressure points.

There are a diverse variety of similar devices, such as arched “spine decks” that you can lie on to stretch and curve your spine to find relief from low back pain. There are many different types of back massage rollers in various configurations that you can use like a traditional foam roller.

Many of these DIY self-massage tools are specifically designed to help people experiencing certain types of back pain. It’s a good idea to talk with your orthopaedic doctor to find out which, if any, you should consider trying for back pain relief between professional treatments.

Shoulder and Neck Self-Massage Techniques

Shoulder and neck chronic pain can be particularly frustrating, as they can make everything from doing chores and driving to exercising and working difficult.

There are a number of affordable neck alignment devices / pillows. These are essentially neck holders with a V-shaped curvature to promote proper neck and spine alignment when you’re lying down on your back.

Many neck traction devices can be purchased online, but some have the potential to do more harm than good if not properly utilized. You should always discuss neck traction devices with your orthopaedist before attempting these at-home neck pain relief solutions.

You can also massage your neck and shoulder muscles with your hand by applying gentle pressure at specific problem points. One such shoulder massage technique is to:

  1.       Relax your shoulders
  2.       Lower your chin to stretch neck muscles
  3.       Place two fingertips at the point where your neck and shoulders meet
  4.       Push your fingertips down firmly and release when you begin feeling some muscle relief
  5.       Roll your shoulders and repeat as necessary

You can also stand with your back against the wall, with a squishy ball between the tense or tender spots on your shoulder and the wall.

To start, move your back up and down the wall to roll the ball around until it’s over a trigger point or painful spot. Relax your weight against the wall to trap the ball there. Some people put the ball (like a tennis ball) in a sock so they can drape it over their shoulder and better control where it rests between their back and the wall.

Are Massages Useful for Managing Chronic Back Pain?

There are studies that suggest massage therapy, when combined with traditional medical management of conditions that cause low back pain, can help patients experience a reduction in pain and improve function. However, these studies frequently note a long-term drop off in efficacy.

For many patients struggling with chronic pain, combining traditional pain management injections and other non-invasive orthopaedic interventions with massage therapies may be a good option.

Massages are not intended to cure or treat underlying musculoskeletal issues that lead to back, shoulder or neck pain. That’s why undergoing a thorough diagnostic screening with trained pain management doctors is so important.


Patients struggling with chronic back pain should also be leery of any chiropractor or massage therapist or product that claims their massage therapy regimen is a miracle cure for back pain. Always discuss any therapeutic remedies you pursue with a board-certified pain management doctor.

You can schedule a consultation with the orthopaedic specialists at Non-Surgical Orthopaedics by calling us at 770-421-1420.