This is PART TWO of the Gua Sha & Cupping double treatment – first catch up on Gua Sha if you haven’t yet – a lot of it applies here as well.
Cupping. It’s one of those out-there spa treatments that most people vaguely hear about along the way, like an ancient Chinese folklore (two of those words are accurate, however) but most people don’t think to try it for themselves. What is it? In short, cupping is a healing therapy that uses suction on the skin’s surface to “suck” stagnant blood from deep beneath the surface, mobilizing blood flow and delivering a range of benefits. Bottom line, it greatly improves circulation—the holy grail of spa benefits.
It’s similar to Gua Sha in terms of the holistic healing goals, but different in method and strength. Unlike the scraping technique of Gua Sha, traditional Ancient Chinese Cupping employs a glass dome that becomes a suction cup after a flash of fire. Scraping mobilizes blood just beneath the surface, while the mighty suction of cupping is able to stir up blood deeper within the body.
I had my first cupping treatment with Stephanie Maceiras, Licensed Acupuncturist at the Village Wellness Project in NYC. I quoted her in the Gua Sha post and it’s worth repeating here: “Nobody likes the bruising but everybody loves the way it feels, so it’s worth it.” Yes, the visual result of cupping is a bruise—simply blood being moved to just beneath the surface. That means it’s working! I only did a small dose of cupping for fear of long lasting bruises, but since it faded in only 3 days, I wish I had done more because the feeling afterwards was truly outstanding. My back seriously felt better than it had in years.
There’s sliding cupping as Stephanie demonstrated on me, where the cup moves up and down the body to get the blood moving evenly. It feels a bit like a massage, and the first cup she used was bigger and felt great. Then she used a smaller cup with a little more suction (she placed it on my back faster) and it started to hurt a bit. The pain means it’s working, but she released a little air to be less severe.
There’s also stationery cupping, where multiple cups are placed on your body at once. The longer it sits in one place and the stronger the suction, the more bruising occurs, as I saw when Stephanie left mine in one place to snap a photo on my iPhone – I had small, highly defined red circle on my back. A very intense version looks like this:
Don’t let this scare you – your practitioner has complete control over the level of cupping that occurs, and you by no means have to do it to this extreme to feel the effects. Here’s a look at a milder version, and the bruising that may occur:
Who is a candidate for Cupping? You are. Yes, cupping is a great treatment for anyone, just as a massage is, to improve circulation and general physical and psychological well-being. It helps treat everything from chronic pain to common colds, bronchitis and the flu. It alleviates back pain and tension tremendously, as I learned first hand. Some forms of cupping have also been used to treat serious medical conditions, such as blood disorders (anemia, hemophilia), arthritis and joint problems, muscular conditions, fertility and gynecological disorders, skin problems such as eczema and acne.
Another benefit? You could become a sexy Twister board for miniature colorblind people:
Gwyneth is doing it too!
Speak to your acupuncturist and find out how cupping could improve your health and well being. It is often paired with gua sha as you know, but it can also be combined with acupuncture and other holistic therapies.
Are you for cupping? Comment below and let me know if you’ve tried it or are thinking about it! And please never mention my comment about miniature colorblind people.
Village Wellness Project
80 E. 11th St., Suite 407
New York, NY 10003
Book on their website
To book with Stephanie directly, call 646-396-9756
This spa treatment was comped for editorial consideration, but all opinions stated are genuine and my own. Disclosure Statement
Photo 1 via