Have you ever heard of cupping treatment? It is a form of alternative medicine and one of the oldest methods of Traditional Chinese medicine. Small glass cups are warmed and placed immediately against the skin. As the flammable substance inside the cup burns, it removes all the oxygen and creates a vacuum which causes your flesh to be sucked up into the cup. It is said to be one of the best deep-tissues therapies available and helps stimulate the flow of blood, balance and realign the flow of Qi, break up obstructions and help ‘pull out’ the toxins.
When my friend came back from her summer visit to Indonesia she told me how fantastic she feels after the two cupping treatments she had while away. She was raving about what an incredible kick of energy it gave her.
I heard about cupping therapy back in Poland when I was a child. The unlucky kids had it done when they were sick (usually because of a bad cold during winter). I always dreaded it and was fortunate never to experience it as my family was more into taking western medicine (drugs) than traditional Chinese medicine. However, while talking with my girlfriend, feeling weak, tired and having some health issues, I immediately put it on my list of ‘must try’.
We walked in to a totally random massage place (after no research whatsoever) and asked for cupping treatment for two. We were asked to wait while they sterilized the cups. After 15minutes we were taken to a room for a couples massage. A silent woman walked in with cups and started working on Bartek. I quickly realized that it was not going to be a relaxing therapy. She left for a minute to get more cups and I quickly snapped this photo:
She returned with another two women who started working simultaneously on me. They were fast. Very fast. They where putting cups next to each other and it felt like there was not enough skin to stretch for all the caps. It was uncomfortable and very painful. By this stage we started competing with Bartek who breaks first and ask them to stop and remove them all. We both suffered in silence and counted the seconds to the end of our treatment. A lifetime or so later, they came back and slowly started to remove them. Oh bliss. I was relieved until the second they started putting them back on. AGAIN! I was biting my lips, shed a couple of tears and simply refused to give up before Bartek. We were left alone again for God knows how long and I silently cursed myself for stupid ideas. We could have had a relaxing massage instead! When they finally removed all the cups from our backs we paid as fast as we could and rushed outside.
We barely managed to walk back to our hotel and collapsed. Our backs where pulsating and radiating heat.
Did I get an incredible kick of energy? Did it clear my body from toxins? I don’t think so. For almost a week we could barely sleep. We were exhausted. The marks were swollen and hot. Very hot to touch. From pink colour to purple, almost black at some places. We cancelled a trip to a waterfall, didn’t go anywhere near the hotel pool, didn’t even consider a massage. I bought tops with longer sleeves to cover up my arms (who puts cups on arms?!). Bartek made a few jaws drop (and me laughing) whenever he bent down which made his t-shirt go up and expose his marks. Believe me it was a sight to behold. Sight-seeing in 30 degrees Celsius with painful and hot-to-touch backs wasn’t too much fun.
My back was terribly bruised. Over the following WEEKS, the bruised circles went through all the colours from red, deep red, black, with green edges, dark purple, yellow and finally, for the longest time, to unhealthy grey.
It’s been six weeks since our ‘experiment’. Husband assures me that there are only 3 visible marks left on my back. Which truly relieves my fear that I’ll be bruised forever.
We are done with cupping therapy but there is no doubt that this is one of the things we will be laughing about for years to come. Another ridiculous thing we did together to add to our list. A list which has been constantly growing for the past 33 years.