For almost my whole life I’ve had an excessive curve to my lower back. I’m pretty sure it stems back to playing saxophone in band. You have to sit at the edge of the seat to hold a saxophone, and I think my way of compensating for having no back support was to curve my lower back. Then, combined with my hip flexors being shortened from many years of sitting at school and at work, my back kind of got stuck like that.
Even though I’d known about it for a while, I decided now was the time to work on fixing it to help with back pain and to make my bodybuilding posing on stage look much better (pelvis aligned = straighter, leaner looking torso). So I started to work on rolling and stretching my hip flexors every day. For rolling I use the mobility sphere from here.
The curve got better (i.e. less curvy) almost instantly, and then about two days into my stretching regimen my mid-back started to spasm LIKE CRAZY. It was horrible. I could barely get to sleep for two days.
I assume that stretching my hip flexors out allowed my pelvis to get back to where it’s supposed to be, which lengthened my poor back muscles that have been cramped up for years. They were trying to hold onto the positioning they were used to and that’s why they were spasming. Ugh.
In my quest to be more serious about workout recovery and being nice to my body, I’ve also been visiting a sports massage therapist for the past month. It’s a preventative measure to make sure my body stays uninjured and in tip-top shape, plus it’s fun to be a little pampered every now and then. 🙂
So during my most recent massage I asked Bob to focus on my hip flexors and mid-back to help me progress even more. First he did an iliacus release (very weird sensation!) and then he did cupping on my whole back. You know, cupping. That thing that left all those weird marks on the Olympic swimmers’ backs at Rio last year.
During cupping, the therapist places cups on the body, then removes the air from them to create suction. The suction is meant to increase circulation (and it creates round marks like hickies as a side effect). And it looks SO WEIRD.
It feels weird too. Because your skin is being pulled up into the cups, it gives a very tight sensation all over the area.
After a few minutes, Bob took the cups off my skin one by one and then gave a deep massage to my whole back. Once he was done, I felt like I was floating!
Overall, I had a very positive experience with cupping and would try it again on my back or in other areas to complement other types of massage.
Also, if you’re in the Raleigh, NC area and want to give cupping a try or are just looking for a good massage therapist, you can book a session with Bob here.