Lower back pain is fast becoming an epidemic. These days we spend so much time sitting in front of technology that our backs are starting to feel the strain.
Lower back pain is identified as pain anywhere between the bottom ribs and glutes .
It’s a widespread condition in industrialized countries due to the effects of sedentary lifestyles and working 9-to-5 desk jobs.
According to a study published in the Osteopathic Medicine and Primary Care medical journal in 2008, doctors tend to overlook the value of trying more conservative therapies to treat lower back pain and tend to favour surgeries and drug therapies over non-narcotic analgesics, physical therapy treatments, massage treatments and other alternative therapies .
In this post, we’ll look at products you can buy that can safely provide lower back pain relief when you need it at home. Most of the products included are relatively cheap and can be bought with no hassle over the internet.
Many of these products help improve the health of your spine and back muscles with regular use over time, making them much more valuable than harsh treatments that take a toll on your health.
We’ll break down each of the best tools and then categorise them into groups.
Let’s get started!
Myofascial Release Tools
Myofascial release tools offer an alternative method of massage that applies pin-point pressure and kneading or rolling movements to release the fascial—the fibrous tissue surrounding muscles responsible for keeping muscles separate from other muscles, as well as organs and bones.
When the fibres in a muscle’s fascia become knotted and tight, lactic acid builds up, causing soreness, aches and pains.
Myofascial release techniques using these tools are shown to resolve these muscle problems and relieve pain by restoring circulation and breaking up tension.
1. Foam Rollers
Foam rollers are probably the most well-known tools used for myofascial release.
The best brands making top-quality, high-value foam rollers are Amazon Basics, OPTP and TriggerPoint GRID. You may see foam rollers at gyms and physical therapy sessions used for injury prevention, pain relief and faster recovery.
How to use a foam roller for your lower back:
By loosening up the fibres in the muscular tissue and fascia, foam rolling on your lower back can help relieve pain. It also promotes long-term healing by stimulating circulation and tissue repair.
While releasing trigger points in your lower back promotes relaxation and can even promote better hormone balance, it does require more physical exertion compared to a product like a massage chair.
That said, it’s only recommended for those who are physically fit. Pregnant women, elderly and those with mobility limitations should avoid foam rolling for lower back pain.
2. Massage Balls
Massage balls work just like foam rollers to release trigger points with myofascial release. However, they’re smaller and they’re spherical, which means they can apply greater amounts of pressure to smaller, pin-pointed areas of tissue causing pain.
They’re great for digging into back muscles that are hiding behind bone so you can release tightness.
The best massage balls on the market today you can use on your lower back are made by TriggerPoint Therapy GRID, Pro-Tec Athletics, 4KOR, Hyperice and Rumble Roller.
Each ball has a unique design that make them differ in the density and feel they deliver.
For example, the Beastie ball from Rumble Roller has firm, deep nodes that cover it, making it a more intense trigger point release.
Massage balls may be a better option than foam rollers if all you care about targeting is your lower back.
Another plus is that some massage balls have a vibration feature, which regular foam rollers can’t offer.
3. Peanut Massage Balls
Peanut massage balls, also known as double lacrosse balls, are like two massage balls attached to each other, and they’re great for targeting your lower back.
The groove between the two balls in the peanut massage ball is perfect for your spine, so that you can release muscles on both sides at the same time.
A great way to release your lower back is to lie down on your back on a yoga mat with a peanut massage ball placed under your lower back.
Release the soft tissue around your spine, which has probably been strained from sitting throughout the day, by slowly rolling up and down and shifting side to side on the peanut massage ball.
4KOR, Nextrino and RAD are some of the top brands selling professional-grade peanut massage balls.
4. Massage Canes
Massage canes, or massage sticks, act as extensions of your hands to help you release trigger points that are harder to reach. This is ideal for releasing your lower back, because you’re able to reach and pinpoint a small area of tissue.
While you do have to put some effort into using these tools to get back pain relief, it’s worth it when you have acute, chronic pain.
If you can pinpoint the pain and often find yourself using your fingers to massage your lower back, then you should get a massage cane.
Electric Self-Massage Devices
Electric-powered or battery-powered tools for self-massage often can provide a greater amount of force with less effort on your part. They range from cheap to expensive, but most work by targeting muscles with percussion, kneading or pressure to release tension and provide deep tissue massage therapy.
5. Chiropractic Variable Speed Massagers
Previously exclusive to chiropractic sessions, chiropractic variable speed massagers can now be purchased and used at home.
You’ll need someone to hold the device and perform the massage for you. It’s a percussive tool that applies quick, repeated compression at the speed you choose.
The best chiropractic variable speed massagers on the market are from Thumper, Med Massager, Maxi Rub and Vibe.
They can relieve lower back pain by instantly boosting circulation and eradicating tension in soft tissue with every pulse.
They’re able to generate a lot of force, but they may be too heavy-duty for what you need of you just want to target your lower back.
If you have stiffness in your mid-back, then you should consider a chiropractic speed massager for loosening up your muscles to restore correct alignment.
6. Percussion Massagers
Like a chiropractic variable speed massager, a percussion massager is a tool for percussion therapy you can use to target your lower back.
Whereas you definitely need someone to help you with the first one, you may be able to use a percussion massager on your lower back yourself.
They offer relief in a more targeted way, and most come with different attachment heads and varying intensity settings. Some percussion massagers are cordless and run on rechargeable batteries, while others have to be plugged in for use.
7. Massage Chair Pad
A massage chair pad is an electric device you place on any chair or sofa to get a massage just by sitting in place.
It typically has massage nodes that roll and knead, and sometimes they have features like heating and vibration.
By penetrating muscle tissue and stimulating circulation in your back, a massage chair pad can relieve lower back pain, and you can even use it at work in your desk chair.
HoMedics, Snailax and Belmint are respected companies creating research-supported massage devices, and they offer some of the best massage chair pads on the market.
If you want a massage device that provides heat and requires minimal effort on your part to use, then a massage chair pad is a probably a great option for you.
8. Reclining Massage Chairs
Reclining massage chairs are recliner chairs designed by chiropractors and made with cutting-edge technology to deliver a powerful full-body massage while you recline in a zero-gravity position.
If you put a lot of weight on your lower back or have hyperlordosis, reclining at zero gravity and having your back massaged can help. It restores blood flow in the muscles surrounding your spine and eases tightness that causes pain.
Compared to other self-massage products, reclining massage chairs are a significantly bigger investment.
However, they tend to last years, come with extended warranties and provide great value over the years.
If anyone in your family has pain anywhere from their shoulders to their calves, then a reclining massage chair will provide shared value in your household.
While there are many great reclining massage chairs on the market, Kahuna is one of the more expensive brands selling reclining massage chairs, but they’re made with advanced technology that provides an unrivalled experience.
Their Hubot HM-078 chair contains 3D massage rollers, which extend further from the track and massage you deeper and with greater accuracy.
Spinal Decompression Devices
Spinal decompression leverages gravity to increase the space between the vertebrae of your spine.
This allows the cushion-like disks between them to absorb nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream and keep your spine healthy and mobile.
9. Inversion Table
An inversion table places you safely upside down, so that you can hang in a position that allows your spine to decompress.
This creates space between the vertebrae of your spine, takes the pressure off your spinal disks, brings the vertebrae into alignment and relieves the pressure of your weight from your back.
The best inversion tables are made by Teeter, Innova, Exerpeutic and IRONMAN. Each have different features, but all of them are safe and high-quality pieces of equipment.
By using an inversion table every day, you can help relieve and prevent back pain. The only drawback is that there are medical conditions that prevent some people from using them.
10. Decompression Belt
A decompression belt helps take the pressure of your weight off your lower back by acting somewhat as a brace just around your waistline.
It’s mostly designed to prevent and relieve lower back pain when you’re required to be on your feet throughout the day or sit long hours at a computer desk.
Compared to a back brace, it provides less support for your shoulders and won’t help you open up your chest for better posture. Rather than a posture brace, it’s more of a spinal brace for your lumbar spine, which is ideal for people with hyperlordosis.
It also protects your spine against problems such as slipped disks and degenerative disks by helping to keep your spine aligned as you move throughout the day.
The best decompression belts are comfortable, highly adjustable, easy to clean and draw less attention. LEAMAI, Leawell and HailiCare are making some of the best decompression belts for lower back pain.
Some decompression belts have an additional heat feature, which can help you get relief any time of the day without making noise or requiring much action on your part.
11. Lower Back Stretcher
A lower back stretcher is a device you can lay on to decompress your spine and stretch it. It can help improve your posture, but also alleviate back pain by stimulating more blood flow and stretching muscles that are subjected to strain or postural stress.
By improving your posture, a lower back stretcher may help reduce your lower back pain. It’s a great way to relax your back and decompress your spine at the end of the day, and most users report feeling energized after using it.
As a part of your daily routine, using a lower back stretcher can improve the health and flexibility of your spine. If you couple it with strength training exercises for your lower back, you can improve your lower back pain.
The CHISOFT is a comfortable silicone stretcher. The SOLIDBACK stretcher is another great unit, as it’s covered with acupressure nodes made of the same material as foam rollers, making it not just helpful for stretching your back, but also for releasing trigger points.
However, the best of the best is the BackBridge, which is rated number 1 for how durable, adjustable and customizable it is. For more information on these devices, see our page on the best lower back stretchers.
Alternative Pain Relief Therapies
Some drug-free pain relief therapies have no side effects, are non-invasive, and they can work as an adjunctive therapy without causing any interactions.
12. TENS Unit
A TENS unit is a natural pain treatment route that involves placing a few pads on the site of pain and turning on the unit.
The pads have cords connecting them to the device, so when you turn it on, it begins sending out small electrical currents through the cords that penetrate your skin and stimulate the nerves in your muscle tissue. This has a natural pain-relieving effect.
Like a massage chair, chair pad and acupressure mat, the TENS unit is a device that requires minimal effort on your part to use.
13. Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy is a technology based on beneficial light waves that both enhance the beauty of your skin and relieve pain in your muscle tissue.
Red light therapy reduces inflammation, boosts circulation and speeds up muscle recovery from exercise. When you use a red light therapy device on your lower back regularly each day, research suggests you’re likely to see reductions in lower back pain.
Some red light therapy devices are made for the face only, and others are hand-held for targeting specific areas.
For your lower back, you might consider a red light therapy panel, which you can place on a wall and stand in front of to target your lower back.
Ultimately, the best red light therapy device for lower back pain is the one that is most convenient for you to use and effective for providing pain relief.
Your best bet is to try a red light bulb, which is a lamp you can probably use in a more comfortable position laying down on your stomach.
14. Cupping Therapy
Cupping therapy consists of placing air-vacuumed cups on your back or other areas where you’re experiencing pain. It works by breaking up tension and tightness in your fascia and muscle tissues.
It works in a similar but opposite way as massage, which pushes in on your muscles versus suctioning them away from your body. It stimulates blood flow and some cups can be used with oil to slide along your longer muscles for myofascial release.
The best cupping therapy sets are authentic and affordable, such as the Kangzhu, the ACU glass cupping set and the Hansol set.
The right type of cupping therapy for you depends largely on whether you desire a more traditional route of cupping treatment or a set that’s more practical.
The most traditional type of cupping therapy set such as the ACU glass cupping set, involves glass and using fire to expel the oxygen from the glass cups. Therefore, it requires a second person on hand.
IAFORY, Edge and Cupping Warehouse are companies making silicone cups you can squeeze to express out the air and suction them onto your skin. These are a more modern type practical for use on your own and when you’re travelling.
15. Acupressure Mats
Acupressure mats are mats you roll out onto the ground just like yoga mats, but they’re covered with hundreds of tiny acupressure nodes that are almost like needles.
In fact, the science behind acupressure mats came from the “bed of nails” in Indian yogic culture, which yogis would lie down on. It works by stimulating your nerves in a way that promotes homeostasis and releases endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving hormones.
Laying on an acupressure mat for 10 to 20 minutes each day may work to relieve your lower back pain. You may not feel any change until the next day the first time, but after daily use for a couple of weeks, you may notice a big difference.
The best acupressure mats are durable, non-toxic and easy to clean. The Spoonk mat is an industry-standard known for getting results. Other great brands are Acuswede, Nayoya, Ajna and Pranamat, which all use eco-friendly, non-toxic materials.
When starting with using an acupressure mat for your back, you want to start wearing a shirt. After a few days or weeks when you feel ready to go to a higher intensity level, you can try lying on the mat shirtless for even greater benefits.
When you’re first starting, the mat may feel a little painful. With time, it starts to feel relaxing to lie down on.
Ergonomic tools help you prevent lower back pain from developing in the first place. They work by correcting your alignment so that you’re not subjecting your lower back to postural stress.
16. Chair Lumbar Support
Most office chairs lack inbuilt lumbar back support. Since your upper back, shoulders and head depend on your lower body’s support, it’s important your chair help it out.
If not, you need a lumbar support system for your chair.
Certain cushions are designed to fit perfectly into a desk chair and provide support for your lower back. This can go a long way in reducing your back pain if you sit at a desk for a large portion of the day.
LoveHome, Vertteo and SOFTaCARE are brands that make some of the best lumbar chair cushions, made with memory foam that provides the highest level of comfort and support, and it adapts to the shape of your body.
17. Knee Pillows
Knee pillows help position your body in a more ergonomic alignment when you sleep on your side. You place them between your knees and it helps align your spine.
Even in your sleep, holding a misaligned posture can lead to pain. If you have lower back pain, experience discomfort in your sleep and you’re a side-sleeper, then buying a great knee pillow could be a turning point for you.
The Abco Tech Moon pillow, Aocome knee pillow and Cush comfort knee pillow are some of the best products out there offering comfort and durability.
18. Heating Pad
Ever had a hot shower to get relief from your lower back pain?
Heat offers pain relief for your lower back pain in several ways. It increases circulation in areas where stagnation has caused stiffness, achiness and soreness. Also, it lowers inflammation, which is at the root of pain.
Imagine if you didn’t have to get in the shower when you needed lower back pain relief at work, in the car or anytime at home?
A top-notch heating pad will be comfortable and portable. It should also have adjustable temperature settings and be made with quality craftsmanship to last you through the years.
One of the best heating pads available today is the Mighty Bliss heating pad, which also offers a moisture setting in addition to heating, and has a lifetime replacement guarantee.
Sunbeam, BodyMed, Huggaroo and Anbber also make high-quality, durable heating pads that offer effective relief and excellent comfort.
19. Back Braces and Kyphosis Braces
Back braces generally strap around your shoulders like a backpack and go around your waist to help correct your posture by bringing your chest up and reversing kyphosis (otherwise known as hunchback posture). Others just go around your waist, and some just go around your shoulder and across the chest.
Back braces come in different levels of flexibility, since people with weaker posture will require more rigid of a brace and others will get more benefit from flexible types.
Back braces help you relieve and prevent lower back pain by reducing postural stress. If your lower back acquires tension throughout the workday, for example, whether you spend most of the time sitting or on your feet, a back brace can reduce the pressure that results in pain.
Some of the best kyphosis braces are the Aspen Quickdraw Pro, Mueller Lumbar Support brace, AidBrace support belt and the back brace by Sparthos.
20. Standing Desks
Standing desks help you avoid lower back pain and improve your posture by giving you time to stand as you work instead of just sit.
They’re at a higher height so that you can work on your feet, and they’ve shown to help reduce hyperlordosis and anterior pelvic tilt — common in people who sit a lot.
Since daily sitting for a full workday is a common cause behind lower back pain, reducing the amount of time spent standing would make sense.
Some sitting desks allow you to adjust to a standing height, so that you have the value of both all in one.
The FlexiSpot MB2 standing desk and the Varidesk are some high-quality models of this type that come highly recommended. You can find the best standing desks in various sizes to fulfil the needs in your space.
21. Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
An ergonomic kneeling chair is an alternative kind of chair you can swap for your typical desk chair at work or in your home office.
Rather than provide back support, an ergonomic kneeling chair puts you in a position to sit so that your spine can more easily align straight.
It’s unrealistic to achieve good posture when your thighs and torso are at a 90-degree angle. The ergonomic kneeling chair fixes this problem by placing your hips and thighs more downward so that the angle is more obtuse. This way, you can sit up straight and avoid the postural stress that pains your lower back.
The best ergonomic kneeling chairs have a comfortable seat that is sufficiently padded so you can use it for long work sessions at your desk.
You want to choose a kneeling chair that is adjustable so you can perfect its height with the height of your desk.
A Holistic Approach to Managing Lower Back Pain
These are non-medical products on the consumer market, so bear in mind they can’t replace the personalized treatment you would receive from a doctor.
Nonetheless, making some of these alternative therapies a part of your lifestyle with the help of the tools in this list, you can start healing your back and combatting lower back pain naturally.