I have been fully intrigued by cupping for the longest time but always slightly nervous to go, intimidated by the marks it left and unsure of if it really was all it was cracked up to be. What finally got me to go was a spot in my low back that felt hard as a brick for months. Even in very gentle supine twists, I could feel the difference between my two sides. After trying various methods to work out the knot, I booked a cupping appointment. Let me just say, I should have gone so much sooner. The experience was not in the least frightening and I felt the difference in my body almost immediately. My back, although slightly tender (it’s day 2) feels more aligned, longer, and knotless.
Brought into popular culture by celebs and most notably Michael Phelps, cupping is an ancient form of Chinese medicine, used to expel toxins from the body. It is frequently used for those suffering from respiratory ailments, such as asthma, colds, or lung infections. Cupping works to help the body dispose of waste or toxins that have built up, causing stagnation of blood flow or blockage of Qi (energy flow). By drawing blood to the area and increasing circulation, cupping helps the body to rid itself of toxins.
The cupping process is fairly simple: a small flame will be placed within a glass cup, warming the cup and removing the oxygen. The removal of the oxygen helps to create the suction on your skin. As the glass cup is placed over the skin the skin tissue is drawn up into the cup. This suction increases blood flow, loosens the connective tissue and stimulates the movement of qi. I was super nervous this would hurt like crazy (have you seen some of the pictures floating around the internet?!) but it was truly painless. To me, I felt a slight pulling sensation and a bit of a tingle for most of them. Some of the small cups, especially those placed around my neck had a more intense feel, but still not what I would classify as painful. The places with more intense sensation were also the ones where the darkest marks were left, meaning the most stagnation. The cups can be moved around on the skin, while stilled sealed, to help break up tissue blockages.
- If you tend to be more sensitive to touch or are worried about it hurting, ask for larger cups to be used first – these have a less intense suction.
- Moving the cups around can be more uncomfortable, provide feedback to your practitioner on how this feels in your body.
- Drink loads of water afterwards; you want to help your body flush the newly released toxins out!