My First Experience with Cupping Therapy

Dynamic Cupping Massage - Raw Esthetics

Remember cupping? The thing Michael Phelps did at the 2016 Olympics that looked crazy-scary? I tried that. I know, I know it's all the rage. I might be alone in this but I seriously thought this would be over by 2018, guys. Fast forward and nope, it's still here.

Cupping was originally recommended to me by my somatic therapist of things to try (along with acupuncture) in an attempt to reduce pain and help my fatigue. I hold my stress, as many of us do, in my body, specifically, my jaw, neck, shoulders and upper back. Regular massage feels good mid-treatment but wasn't really doing anything for me in the long run.

So there I was - getting my brows waxed and tinted by Marianne at Raw Esthetics in Lakewood and struck up a conversation with Stefania upon checking out. "I have a half hour avail now if you're free and want to try it." "Sure" I say. Because I obviously wasn't really getting around to it any other way.

Raw Esthetics

But let's back up for a minute. What is cupping anyway?

Per Raw Esthetics -
"It's one of the most powerful detoxifying treatments, has been in practice for over 5000 years and remains one of the oldest and most globally practiced forms of therapy.
Cupping therapy not only allows you to experience a deep relaxation, but its health benefits are numerous.
Health benefits include: physical stress relief, reduce cellulite, heal sports injuries, improve acne, high blood pressure, sinus pressure, migraines.
Abdominal cupping has also been known to aid in conception.

Opposite from a deep tissue massage, cupping techniques pull the tissue and muscles, rather than compressing them. Drawing toxins out of the body, the suction inside the cups lifts the skin away from the body to create negative pressure, as opposed to positive pressure induced my massage. The negative pressure helps loosen muscle tissue, increase healthy blood flow and sedate the nervous system. Any marks under the skin represent toxins, pesticides and acids being removed from the body."

This salon uses silicone cups but cupping can be done with silicone, glass, bamboo or earthenware cups. There is dry cupping and wet cupping and sometimes even flammable substances can be put inside (think alcohol, herbs or paper) and set on fire. As the fire goes out, the cup is placed upside down on your skin. As the air inside the cup cools it creates a vacuum inside the cup.
This is not what is done at Raw Esthetics.

I decided on a Dynamic Cupping Massage and told Stefania that I recently had surgery, was feeling pretty well but wanted to focus on gaining energy and continuing to heal. With our time constraint we kept it to my back, neck and shoulders.

I got undressed like a typical massage treatment and nestled on the table. Stefania came in and used an oil all over my back and neck and began like a typical deep tissue massage. Then she started to use the cups in a sliding motion, moving them in patterns that I could make no sense of but I was in such a zen state by then I was barely conscious. She started on the left side and began placing stagnant cups in a pattern on my shoulder and all the while massaging the other shoulder with her other hand. The massage continued until those cups were taken off and the concept was repeated on the other side.

It wasn't until later that I found out that the continuous sliding of the cups had to do with the lymphatic system. That's the network of tissues and organs responsible for ridding your body of waste and toxins.

Afterward I couldn't believe that it had only been thirty minutes. That was the longest, most relaxing half-hour ever! I wasn't woozy or dizzy, I felt calm and relaxed - yet refreshed and oddly energized if that's even possible. Moreover, I was free of some back pain that I did not mention and that I'd been having ever since my surgery. I figured it was just because I'd been unable to really utilize my core muscles and been spending more time in bed than normal. But poof, gone. And it hasn't returned.

Reader Questions:

Does it hurt? 
Nope. The only part that pinched a bit was at the end when one particular cup was removed and then slid around. I'll have to ask what that meant. None of the others were even uncomfortable. 

What's up with the marks?
Since there's no compression they're not technically bruises. The dark hickey-like marks are the result of having toxins pulled up to the skin.

I hold my stress/tension and get knots in my neck and back would this help?
Same! I honestly think so. I think the experience would be different for everyone but I've tried many forms of massage and haven't had results like I've already had with just one of these treatments.

Was it part of a massage or separate treatment?
Mine was offered as a Dynamic Cupping Massage but you can add it to any of their massage treatments. Other places might offer it separate.

*I am not a medical professional. This is simply my first-hand experience. 
**Pregnant women, children, older adults and people with certain health conditions (such as cancer, organ failure, hemophilia, edema, blood disorders, and some types of heart disease) are among those who probably shouldn't have cupping. People taking blood-thinning medication are also cautioned against cupping. It is always wise to check with your doctor before starting any type of alternative therapy. 

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