Massage can be a relaxing indulgence but there's no denying that applying gentle pressure to sore spots relieves tension and is a wonderful cure for physical pain. If a regular rub down with a trained massage therapist just isn't possible, check out these six do-it-yourself techniques and feel better—fast.

1. Get on the Ball

  • Grab a tennis ball and use it to release tightness.
  • If it's your back that's giving you trouble, lie on a yoga mat with a tennis ball under your sore place. Lie still and let the ball work some acupressure magic or gently move your body over the ball for an off-court massage.
  • Lessen neck stiffness by holding the ball in one hand and rolling it up and down the length of your muscles.
  • Pain in the foot? Sit in a chair and place your foot on top of the ball. Roll it up and down the sole of your foot until your sore spots relax.

2. Use Your Noodle

Lightweight foam fitness or flotation "noodles" (aka foam rollers) are perfect for giving calves, thighs, and back muscles a deep massage. Sit or lie on a yoga mat with the noodle perpendicular to the length of the muscle you want to massage. Then use the noodle as a massage roller moving it several times over sore muscles in your leg or back.

3. Give Yourself a Hand

Your own two hands are perfect tools for self massage. Grab some lotion and apply as much pressure as feels comfortable while you rub your sore muscle.

  • If it's your neck, use your fingertips to massage the areas on either side of your spine.
  • If it's your shoulders, use both hands and massage both shoulders at once. Gently grasp your muscles and knead with your fingertips.
  • If it's your legs, use your whole hand or the base of your palms to apply long, firm strokes to the large muscles in your thighs and calves.

4. Deep Freeze

Use a frozen plastic bottle of water and roll your sore foot over it to relieve plantar fasciitis (pain in the thick, connective tissue that forms the arch of your foot) or running pain. Use it as you would a fitness noodle and roll your calves and thighs over it. You can even use it on the small muscles in your neck and hands to relieve tension and reduce inflammation. Smaller bottles are great for small muscle groups in the hands, neck, and feet. Larger bottles work perfectly on large muscle groups in your back, thighs, and buttocks.

5. Good Vibrations

You can purchase a variety of vibrating massagers at your drug or department store. They provide varying levels of pressure through vibration and can relieve sore muscles in hard-to-reach places. If vibration isn't your thing, there are several varieties of hand-held plastic or wooden rolling massagers that might do the trick.

6. Pound it Out

Use your fists—or the edge of your hands—to gently hammer out the tight spots in your muscles. Develop a rhythm and pummel up and down. Don't beat yourself up though and be especially careful if you're prone to bruising.

Liesa Harte, MD, reviewed this article.