My First: Cupping Experience

I had previously ignored cupping, bypassing the treatment as a purely physical remedy. This summer, however, whilst I began regularly visiting an acupuncturist, my respect for this healing modality and its potential grew, as my mind reaped the benefits...

Feeling your body rooted in one place is a unique experience. Whilst we are naturally in a state of flow, complete stillness is a lifelong practice and surrendering is the only way to experience this powerful treatment. 

Poppy Roy writes about her first experience of cupping therapy.

Whilst I have tried many complementary medicines for my health, I had previously ignored cupping, bypassing the treatment as a purely physical remedy. I believed I was favouring more superior, mind-body focused therapeutics. However, after regularly visiting an acupuncturist since the summer months, my respect for this healing modality and its potential grew, as my mind reaped the benefits.

Arriving at my acupuncture session with pandemic triggered symptoms of stress, anxiety and  trouble sleeping, my therapist Sam Coxeter, of Treat in Norwich, suggested that dry cupping would be the perfect remedial antidote. This was due to the treatments ability to ‘unblock’ trauma, or psychic wounds, stress and tension held in the body, particularly the back, shoulders and calf muscles. This was my first physical treatment since lockdown, and as I had never tried cupping I was slightly unprepared for the sensations. Yet in the safe hands of Sam, the cups were gently attached to my back, moved around in massage and cups left attached to specific points of my upper back. There is nothing painful about cupping, however movement is discouraged due to the suction of tissue. 

I realised that the first time in weeks, I gave myself permission to be still, something I seldom did in the months prior. Lying on the massage table my body was fully supported and by accepting the non negotiable stillness of the cups I slipped into a deep state of relaxation, something I can only liken to yoga nidra. After my first session, I was hooked. The treatment had put me into a deep state of relaxation and over the following week I could feel the effect on my nervous system. I was calmer, less tense and my energy levels had improved. Sleeping better and feeling more relaxed with the world, something that many hours of massage has only been able to achieve. 

For someone who finds great joy and release in movement, cupping has become the yin to balance my yang qualities. I am reminded that stillness and rest is just as important as mobility and movement. 

What is Cupping?

Cupping is a complementary medicine, with evidence of cupping as a healing technique at least 3,000 years ago in China, Egypt and Arabia, today, cupping is a highly regarded treatment in traditional Chinese medicine and popular in both lymphatic and sports massage therapies. Cupping consists of creating a vacuum pressure and localised suction of the skin, fascia and tissue underneath. To stimulate energy and blood flow glass, or silicone, cups are placed on points along the meridians, the energetic lines of the body, which govern each organ and function. 

What Are The Benefits Of Cupping?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine cupping is used to increase qi or life energy in the body. The myriad of benefits include boosting blood circulation and oxygen flow, decompressing and stimulating the lymphatic system and freeing physical and emotional blockages and pain in the body. Cupping helps to support the natural detoxification of the body, relieving tension, improving energy levels and supporting the immune system. Various studies have proven the potential that cupping has with pain management with results showing a reduction in pain for people suffering from illnesses such as arthritis, migraines and carpal tunnel syndrome. 

When To Have Cupping?

Cupping therapy can be used for illness and pain treatment and management or for general wellbeing. The physiological effects of one cupping session happen immediately, however a weekly treatment is recommended, depending on your conditions and health. The cups will leave a suction mark on the skin, but don’t panic, this will fade over a few days and practitioners will wait until severe marks have gone before they treat that area again.

How To Prepare For Treatment?

Cupping can reduce blood pressure so it is advised to eat at least 2 hours prior to your session and drink plenty of fluids before and after a session.

Wear loose fitting clothes

Prepare for your consultation by writing down a brief medical history, how you feel in your health and any medications you take

Include information about your digestive and sleep patterns, energy levels and mood, as well as any aches, pains and problems you are experiencing.

What To Expect In A Session?

Treatments can last between 30 minutes to an hour and a half and will also include a consultation to begin with. Cupping is usually practiced in conjunction with acupuncture, this will depend on the practitioner. 

There are two cupping methods, dry and wet and the method is chosen to suit the patient's needs. Dry cupping uses solely the suction of the cups for 10 - 15 minutes and wet cupping uses suction for 3-5 minutes followed by control of medicinal bleeding. Dry cups and a massage oil are used to massage areas of the body, along the meridian lines and problem areas. The treatment is mainly the back, shoulders and neck where emotional stress and physical tension is stored. However cups can be used along the arms and legs strategically.

Who Is It For?

Cupping therapy is beneficial for many people, but it is not recommended for everyone. Children under the age of 4, folks with diabetes, pacemakers, organ failure, cancer, bleeding disorders, skin conditions and wounds and the elderly with fragile skin and pregnant women should avoid the treatment.

Poppy Roy

Poppy Roy joined Otherness as Editor-At-Large, where she will oversee the editorial content; collaborating, writing and contributing pieces, which explore spiritual and alternative forms of wellbeing.

With a background in photography and yoga, Poppy joined us from British Vogue, where she wrote about wellbeing and sustainable living. Poppy's work reflects her compassion and desire to share powerful modalities as a form of collective and personal healing.

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