How To Build And Use A Back Roller To Help Provide Relief From Back Pain

25 September 2015
 Categories: , Articles


If you suffer from back pain, you are far from the only one. The number one pain complaint among Americans is lower back pain, which is also the primary cause of permanent disability among persons under age 45. There are a lot of treatment options, including chiropractic services, but sufferers aren't always able to visit a doctor to get immediate relief. That's why self-treating is important to one's well-being and helps alleviate pain between visits to a chiropractor. Below is more information on a simple, effective and safe pain relief through the use of a back roller.

What is a back roller?

A back roller consists of connected wooden discs, cushioned on the edges with foam padding. All you need do is lie on top of the back roller and slowly roll back and forth over the discs. This device enables you to provide helpful self-compression and extension of tender muscles and nerves, and it only takes a few minutes a day. One of the best things about it is that you can make the back roller yourself; below is a list of tools and materials you will need and a guide to construction and usage:

Items you will need

  • 4 feet-by-8 feet sheet of hardwood plywood (¼-inch thickness)

  • ½-inch diameter, 4-inch long hex bolt with matching washer and wing nut

  • Fender washers

  • ½-inch closed cell foam weatherstripping

  • Drawing compass capable of drawing 8-inch diameter circles

  • Coping saw or jig saw

  • Drill press and ¼-inch bit

  • Fine-grit sandpaper

  • Pencil

Step-by-step procedure for assembly

1. Mark, cut out, and sand wooden discs - Begin by laying your sheet of 4-foot by 8-foot plywood on a flat surface such as a garage or workshop floor. Be careful not to lay the wood in oil or other stain-causing materials.

After placing the plywood sheet, set a drawing compass to create an 8-inch circle. Next, mark a small 'x' on the plywood sheet, and use that as the center point for your circle by placing the compass axis tip on top of the 'x'. Carefully draw a circle with your compass, making sure it is perfectly round when you are finished.

Once the circle is drawn, use a coping saw or jigsaw to cut along the line. Next, use a piece of fine-grit sandpaper to remove any rough edges or splinters. Do not sand too deeply, so you don't distort the shape of the circle.

After finishing the first disc, repeat the steps above and create three more discs for a total of four 8-inch discs. Then, adjust the compass to 4 inches, and mark, cut out and sand a 4-inch disc.

2. Drill the axle holes in the discs - Once you have cut out all of the discs, the next step is to drill holes for the axles through the center points of all the discs. Fasten each disc, one at a time, in the clamp of a drill press, and drill a 1/2-inch hole through the exact center of the disc as marked. Sand off any splinters or rough edges.

3. Join the discs together with the bolt - After the holes have been drilled in each disc, arrange the discs so two 8-inch discs are on each side of the 4-inch disc and all five holes are lined up with each other. Hold the discs together with one hand and use your other hand to slip a fender washer over a ¼-inch hex bolt and slide it down the shaft until it reaches the bolt head. Next, carefully insert the bolt through the aligned holes in the discs until it reaches all the way through the other side. Place another fender washer on the bolt, followed by a regular bolt washer and tighten the assembly with a wing nut.

4. Attach the cushioning material to the discs - To avoid hurting your back or causing discomfort, you need to cushion the edges of the discs. Using ½-inch wide closed cell foam weatherstripping material is ideal for this application.

To begin, remove the protective liner from several inches of the weatherstripping and carefully wrap it around the circumference of each combined pair of 8-inch discs. If the weatherstripping adhesive does not seem to be adhering well to the wooden discs, you can use rubber cement  to join the weatherstripping and wood. Trim the weatherstripping to form a neat joint with no overlap.

Using the back roller

Once the back roller is finished, you can use it immediately unless you attached the weatherstripping with rubber cement. To use it, lay the back roller on a firm, cushioned surface such as a carpet or rug. Sit immediately in front of the roller with your back turned, then gently lower yourself on to the roller so your lower back is resting upon it. If you feel too much tension in your back, place a pillow under your head to provide extra support.

After your lower back is resting on the roller, slowly move your torso up and down the roller. Continue rolling for about five minutes, but quit at any point you feel excessive pain or pressure. Also, consult with your chiropractor if you have any concerns about your routine or use of the back roller.