While a back massage here and there can work wonders, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of hitting the spa to unwind. Luckily, there’s a whole wide world of tools that are specifically made to melt away the back tension that comes from sitting at a desk all day. And I mean a whole. wide. world. Lower back pain relief products are wide ranging and include heating pads, back pain-relieving balls, and full-on foam rollers that all aim to decompress the spine.
There are all different categories of these back pain-solving products, though, so it helps to know what you’re looking for in order to navigate the aisles. Some are preventative, like posture-boosters you can put on your desk chair (or use instead of a desk chair), while others like topicals or percussive devices aim to undo that stiffness outright. To help you shop, we asked Rebecca Lubart, founder of Dynamic Body Pilates and body mechanics pro, for her recommendations on how to stock up your recovery toolkit. Keep scrolling for expert-approved lower back pain relief products to try for yourself.
1. Sunbeam Electric Heating Pad, $25
Ah, a heating pad. It’s a classic back pain relief essential that you probably saw your grandparents use, and you can snag one in practically any drugstore (or, ya know, on Amazon). “Especially in the winter, people are prone to waking up stiff and achey,” says Lubart. “I don’t go fancy on this. Go pick up an electric heating pad at your nearest drugstore and place it behind your back—or wherever feels stiff—while you enjoy your morning coffee.” Sounds cozy to me.
2. Super Pinky Ball, $5
Sometimes a simple portable ball can make a huge difference in dealing with lower back pain. This “pinky ball” is a tool that Lubart says she gives to every single client she sees because it’s easy to carry around and takes up next to no space. “The density of it makes it a perfect tool for massaging, not bruising, the spots that need a little attention,” she says. “For general back tightness, I recommend standing with your back to a wall and placing the ball between you and the wall in the area you want to massage. Roll out just the right side of your back and then the left so you can avoid rolling over your spine.” Move in a zig-zag pattern, adjusting the pressure based on your preference. “Do the same thing across your glutes, and keep the ball moving to avoid ‘pummeling’ any spot,” she says.
A foam roller isn’t just an essential for a post-workout stretch—Lubart says these can be super helpful for lower back pain, and according to her, it only takes five minutes a day. “Lay down onto the roller so that it’s under both your butt and your head with your knees bent. You can benefit from laying down on it and breathing—gravity will help the roller to disarm your overworked back muscles all up and down the spine.” Pro tip: For even more relief, she suggests bringing your arms into a ‘goal post’ position to really open up your chest and shoulders.
4. Gymnic Over Ball, $10
Another handy ball that can help relieve lower back pain is this option, which Lubart recommends to use in your chair when sitting. “Blow this ball up just a little, and place it behind your back while seated,” she says. “I prefer this to a lumbar support pillow. Place it between any part of your back and your chair that feels good to you and feel free to change its position as the day goes on.” The buoyancy of it will take pressure off of your low back, helping to prevent soreness later on.
If you deal with lower back pain on the reg, Lubart says that a stability ball chair can work wonders. “One of the best things you could ever do for yourself is to trade your desk chair for a stability ball,” she says. “The ability to roll around means that you won’t be prone to the same compressed stiffness as a low-quality desk chair.” She prefers this fabric-covered option because it prevents that sticky, sweaty feeling that can happen from sitting on a plastic ball all day.
6. Humble Flower Relief Balm, $90
By now you’ve certainly seen CBD heralded for all sorts of inflammation-busting purposes, and another to add to the list: your lower back. Some studies have shown that topical CBD can help to soothe sore muscles. Try this Humble Flower balm that has a combo of anti-inflammatory CBD along with arnica oil to help make your back pain melt away.
7. Theragun Liv, $200
We can’t forget about the Theragun, which has become the rockstar of the muscle recovery world. It uses percussive therapy to loosen up your muscles via super-quick vibrations, which unwinds tightness.
For an easy way to massage back pain out by yourself, this tool does the trick. The design makes it foolproof to reach the problem areas on your back, and you can use either the massage balls to roll out tightness or the extra-firm tip for targeted pressure.
Also helpful if you have back pain: Try these ‘Bermuda triangle’ stretches for a painful lower back, or focus on one of your key leg muscles. Yep, seriously—here’s what to know about the connection between your hamstrings and lower back pain.
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