If you’re feeling tense or sore, massage therapy may help you feel better. This is the practice of pressing and rubbing your skin and underlying muscles. It has many physical and mental benefits, including pain relief and relaxation.

However, you don’t always need to see a massage therapist to reap the rewards. For some types of ailments, a self-massage can be beneficial, too.

During a self-massage, you use your hands to manipulate your own muscles. This involves kneading the skin and applying pressure in certain spots.

If you’d like to try self-massage for pain relief, it’s helpful to know about certain techniques to help you get the most out of it. Read on to learn more.

Self-massage is a simple, convenient way to enjoy the benefits of massage therapy. As a DIY method, it can be done in the comfort of your own home.

Like massage in general, self-massage may help ease:

When included as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, self-massage might also help manage chronic conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis. It shouldn’t replace regular medical treatment, though.

Additionally, if you receive professional massages, self-massage may prolong the benefits and provide relief in between sessions.

Self-massage may ease minor types of pain, including pain in the:

  • head
  • neck
  • shoulders
  • abdomen
  • upper and lower back
  • glutes
  • hips

If your pain is due to a swollen muscle, you may also have nerve pain. This can happen when a muscle presses against a nerve. But by using self-massage to relieve muscle pain, you might reduce nerve pain too.

Below are self-massage techniques for common types of pain.

Neck pain is often caused by overuse and poor posture. This can happen from everyday activities, like hunching over a laptop or phone, or reading in bed without adequate neck support.

If your neck feels tight and painful, try this therapeutic self-massage technique. It may also be helpful if you have a knot in your neck.

Steps to follow

  1. Lower your shoulders away from your ears. Straighten your neck and back.
  2. Locate the painful areas on your neck. Press firmly with your fingers.
  3. Gently move your fingers in circular motions. Repeat in the opposite direction.
  4. Continue for 3 to 5 minutes.

If you’re experiencing headache pain, a self-massage may help release tension and increase relaxation. This may be particularly useful if your headache is stress induced.

Here’s one way to do a head massage.

Steps to follow

  1. Lower your shoulders away from your ears. Straighten your neck and back.
  2. Locate the base of your skull. Place the pointer and middle fingers of each hand in the center, fingertips touching.
  3. Apply gentle pressure and slide your fingers outward or downward, moving in the direction that feels best.
  4. Move your fingers in small circular motions. Focus on the tense spots, along with the areas around it.

You can also massage your temples, neck, and shoulders.

To promote relaxation even further, try this massage while listening to relaxing music.

Constipation can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. Although constipation can be treated with laxatives, an abdominal self-massage may also help.

This type of massage provides relief by stimulating a bowel movement. It can also reduce bloating, cramps, and abdominal tightness.

To perform a self-massage for constipation follow the steps below.

Steps to follow

  1. Lie down on your back. Place your hands, palms down, on the right side of your lower stomach, near your pelvic bone.
  2. Gently massage in a circular motion, moving up to your ribs.
  3. Continue across your stomach to your left rib bones.
  4. Continue down the left side of your stomach, moving to your pelvic bone.
  5. Massage your belly button for 2 to 3 minutes, moving in a circular motion.

Drinking more water, eating enough fiber, and exercising regularly can also help ease your constipation.

Back pain is a very common condition. It can have many causes, including but not limited to:

Gentle forms of exercise, like walking, yoga, or specific types of stretches may help ease back pain.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, and using heating pads or cold compresses on your back may help. Massage may also offer some relief, including self-massage.

Here are two techniques to try for back pain:

Lower back self-massage

This method works well for massaging your lower back. You don’t need any equipment.

Steps to follow

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Straighten your back.
  2. Place your thumbs on each side of your sacrum, the flat triangular bone at the bottom of your spine.
  3. Move your thumbs in small circular motions, moving up and down your sacrum.
  4. Apply pressure on any tense spots. Pause, then release.
  5. Continue as necessary, and remember to breathe deeply.

Alternatively, you can try doing this massage in a chair. Be sure to plant your feet on the floor and to sit up straight.

Tennis ball self-massage

You can also massage your back by lying on top of a tennis ball. The firm pressure of the ball can relieve tension in your back.

Steps to follow

  1. Lie on the floor on your back, with your knees bent.
  2. Place the tennis ball directly under the tense spot in your back. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  3. To add more pressure, gently rotate your body to lean on the tennis ball. You can also cross one ankle over the opposite knee to increase the pressure.

When you’re done, roll away from the ball, then get up. Rolling onto the ball could cause more pain.

Self-massage is appropriate if you have mild pain. But if the pain is intense or ongoing, it’s best to see your doctor before trying self-message techniques.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your pain, self-massage might make your symptoms worse.

Additionally, self-massage and other types of massage might be unsafe for some people. Use caution, or talk to your doctor first, if you have:

Take note of how you feel during and after the massage. If the pain gets worse or doesn’t go away, self-massage may not be the best option.

Follow up with your doctor if self-massage doesn’t improve your pain, or makes it worse.

If you’re experiencing mild pain, self-massage may help ease your symptoms. It’s a convenient, easy way to relieve tension and discomfort. You can also use it as a preventive self-care method.

For best results, be gentle with your body and pay attention to your pain.

Get medical attention if the pain worsens, doesn’t get better, or you develop new symptoms. Your doctor can determine what’s causing your pain, along with the best treatment for your situation.