For years I’ve been trying different holistic healing modalities but was always afraid of Cupping. I would see the “trendy” marks on the back of celebrities and perfect yogis alike and think…ok what kind of cult is this? It looked terribly painful and since I bruise and scar easily, I was afraid that the marks would never leave and my beautiful back, which is the only place on my body that doesn’t have a stretch mark, would be ruined forever. Then this past Summer I injured my left shoulder during a weight-lifting workout.
I never fully understood when someone would tell me they had chronic neck or back pain until this moment. For weeks I could barely turn my head to the right, the pain would keep me up at night, and I was aware of my shoulder, neck and jaw all the time. I tried massages and several rounds of acupuncture (which had always worked to ease any pain in the past) but apparently this injury needed something different and the difference was Cupping.
If you’re not familiar with Cupping, it’s an ancient form of alternative medicine where a therapist places special cups on your skin, typically on your back for a few minutes to create suction. The suction helps to facilitate healing with blood flow by increasing the blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed.
There are different methods of cupping, among them wet and dry. During these 2 types of cupping the therapist puts a flammable substance such as alcohol, herbs, or paper in a cup and sets it on fire. As the fire goes out, they put the cup upside down on the skin. As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. This causes the skin to rise and redden as the blood vessels expand. The cup can be left on anywhere from 3 -20 minutes. The therapist I see practices a more modern version of cupping, using a rubber pump instead of fire to create the vacuum inside the cup.
People get it for many reasons including to help with pain, inflammation, relaxation, well- being and as a type of deep tissue massage. Some people also believe that cupping helps balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive, within the body. Restoring balance between these two extremes is thought to help with the body’s resistance to pathogens as well as its ability to increase blood flow and reduce pain.
Does it hurt it a bit? Yes, but not more than a pin prick. Do the bruises go away quickly? That depends on how fast you heal and how much toxins were brought to the surface. The darker the circle, the more toxins are in that area and the longer it takes to go away. Does it really work? My answer is yes. Most professionals say you need about 10 sessions to get the full benefits, especially if you have had long-term pain or injury. I personally felt relief about a week after the first session as the bruises began to go away. I’m on my 5th round and the pain in my shoulder and neck has lessened tremendously, so I intend to continue and finish all 10 sessions.