My First Experience with Cupping Therapy

I’ve had the same knot in my neck for five to six years — that’s not an exaggeration. I tried massage, acupuncture, and Stim therapy, but nothing worked. My mom suggested cupping therapy, but I was afraid it would hurt, so I never gave it a shot. I was worried it would be worse because the knot was so big. Plus, the bruises also looked pretty painful.

Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine that has been around long before athletes made it trendy in the 2016 Olympics. It is often combined with acupuncture or massage. The therapist puts cups, usually made of glass, on your skin for a few minutes. The suction inside the cup pulls your skin upwards and causes it to become red. According to WebMD, the suction comes from lighting a fire inside the cup and placing it on your skin once the fire goes out, or it can be created with a rubber pump. The article also states that people use this therapy for many purposes including pain management, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation, and massage.

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During spring break this year, I finally decided to give cupping a try. My mom and I went to a spa together; I signed up for a cupping and massage combination. When I got there, I was glad to see rubber pumps on the cups because I was a little freaked out about using fire to create the suction. I had read on discussion boards that people said it didn’t hurt, but I was still nervous.

When the masseuse began, she went straight for the cups. She told me to expect some bruising afterward and described the process as a deep tissue massage in reverse. Either I have a low pain tolerance or my therapist was using extra suction because it was painful. It wasn’t unbearable, so I didn’t have to ask her to stop, but it was definitely uncomfortable. She placed about 15 cups on me. Most of them left bruises, but a couple didn’t. If there’s no muscle tension where the cup is placed, the bruise will just come off.

Afterward, I was covered in bruises and felt very sore. That night, my muscles were so tight that I could barely move my head. However, as it loosened up over the next couple days, I felt a lot better. The bruises disappeared within a week, and everything felt more relaxed. My masseuse told me that I had so many knots that it may take a couple of appointments to get rid of them all. I can feel that there’s some tension left, but I’ll definitely go back.


If you don’t mind a few bruises, I’d definitely recommend giving cupping a try! Just make sure, as with any specialist, that they’re properly certified.


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