If you’re looking to relieve back pain, you can take charge of your pain relief by doing your own massage—available to you any time for no cost. Do-it-yourself massage can be an effective and budget-friendly option.

Read these tips and try it today:

  1. Use ice to massage a recent injury.
    Ice massage is particularly beneficial during the first 48 hours following an injury, such as a painful back muscle strain and spasm. Following this period, massage may be best paired with heat therapy.You can easily design your own ice massage therapy with these simple steps:
    • Create an ice “roller” by freezing a small paper or styrofoam cup full of water. Once frozen, the top half inch of the cup can be removed to expose the ice. The remaining portion of the cup can serve as a handle during self-massage.
    • Never apply the ice directly to the surface of your skin, as this can cause damage to soft tissue or nerves. Instead, place a thin cloth over the affected area, or wear a thin T-shirt.
    • Limit ice exposure to no more than 5 to 10 minutes per session, and repeat each session several times a day.
    • When massaging, move the ice roller along your back or neck in small circles, so as not to expose one area for too long. Stop when numbness has been achieved in the affected area.

    Applying pressure to the painful area of the back or neck with the ice roller may help relax tight or strained muscles. If applying pressure through massage causes pain or discomfort, simply ice the area and avoid massage until the back or neck is less tender.

  2. Try massage with magnesium oil.
    A mineral that aids muscles in contracting and relaxing, magnesium is integral to muscle health. Using magnesium topically on the back or neck may be particularly helpful.Magnesium oil can be integrated into your back or neck massage by:
    • Massaging your back or neck while in an Epsom salt bath, which is rich in magnesium.
    • Applying magnesium oil during or before the massage, following a hot shower or bath. Your skin will more effectively absorb magnesium following exposure to warm water.
    • Coating the end of your self massager with a thin layer of magnesium oil, then using the massager to apply the oil to the affected area of your back or neck during massage.

    If topical application of magnesium through massage isn’t ideal for you, some benefit may still be achieved by regularly ingesting foods rich in magnesium, such as fruits, beans, soy products, and whole grains.

  3. Use a foam roller for neck pain.
    Using a foam roller may be a better option than a traditional massager if you have neck pain. the soft texture and ‘give’ of a foam roller provides a more forgiving surface, making massage easier for individuals with sharp pain or limited neck mobility.A foam roller can be used effectively for neck massage by:
    • Rolling the foam roller slowly along the neck until the center of the pain is found. At this point, apply light pressure to the area with the roller until the pain eases.
    • Repeating this process several times daily, and also before and after any neck exercises.
    • If neck pain prevents you from using a foam roller while seated or standing, try doing so while laying on the floor. Lie on a foam roller lengthwise, so the roller lays parallel your spine with the top reaching the base of your skull and the bottom beneath your neck. With your hands on your hips, lightly roll side to side, targeting the muscles at the base of the cervical spine. Do this for 5-10 minutes and repeat as necessary.

Please note that massage, D.I.Y. or otherwise, is not the right treatment for every condition. If the source of your pain is unknown, consider consulting with your physician prior to beginning a new massage regime.

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