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Extreme Fitness: What’s Cupping Therapy All About?

June 29, 2018

One of the things I’ve noticed as I continue to get older is that it takes me a lot more work and time to get my body to a place where it feels “good” in between the various forms of activity that I do. I’ve experimented with a couple different forms of massage, chiropractic care, RPR therapy, acupuncture and my most recent adventure – cupping therapy.

Every form of these therapies has helped me a significant amount; I just continue to explore the different kinds because A) I’m a curious person and B) because a lot of my clients ask me for advice regarding them. It’s nice to have a little bit of input when they do.

Over the years, I have seen a couple different kinds of cupping therapy pop up on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, but I must admit the giant bruises scared me off. How could something that leaves bruises like that not hurt like crazy?

So, let’s back up … cupping therapy. Ever heard of it? If you haven’t, don’t go to YouTube first like I did. Some crazy stuff pops up.

It’s essentially an ancient form of alternative medicine in which the therapist creates suction with cups on your skin. The cups assist with removing toxins in order to promote healing within the area that has been targeted. The cups target areas that are experiencing pain or inflammation, but they can also help increase blood flow, or focus on overall well-being and relaxation.

Now, there are different kinds of cupping therapy – dry, wet, needling and some that involve an actual flame that is used to make the “seal”. There are also a couple different cups that can be used. For instance, glass vs. silicone and it’s usually the therapist’s own personal preference that determines what will be used during your session.

When I found out that my massage therapist and friend, Carrie, was looking for test dummies to practice on so that she could get certified, I swallowed that little bit of fear that I had and figured why not.

Carrie put me through a handful of cupping therapy sessions at Alpha Spine in Lakeville. Each session started off by talking about the issues or imbalances I was having in my workouts, or areas that I was experiencing pain or discomfort. She would then twist the “cups” which looked like giant rubber suction cups onto these areas that we had talked about and then let them sit there for 5-10 minutes.

Carrie told me that just 5 minutes of cupping work was equivalent to 30 minutes of deep tissue massage. Pretty incredible, right? While I love massage, I usually go in to have some of my problem areas worked on (which involves deep tissue) and anyone who has had a deep tissue massage will tell you that it’s not exactly relaxing. So cutting down on the white knuckling-ugly pain face-deep tissue massage time was super appealing to me.

The cups themselves were not painful, I could tell that they were on me because of the pressure in that area. That pressure lessened as time went on, and when Carrie took them off I felt more pressure and then my skin kind of expand back out to try and go back to its regular shape. Carrie then gently rubbed the tiny spots on my back where the cups were and would explain to me how dark the circles were and why. After this, my session was finished and I was instructed to lay low on heavy activity and drink lots of water.

Now the bruises that you may have seen on someone who has just done a cupping therapy are because the cups essentially create a vacuum. Nothing to worry about, they only last 7-10 days and in my experience, fade pretty quickly. My first time, I barely bruised at all, but following that one, they were pretty bad! (I wish I had gotten a picture of it, but it’s pretty hard to take a picture of your own back.) Carrie said I most likely had only a small amount of toxins in my system to be pulled out of me that first time.

I was very pleased with my results following my cupping therapy sessions. I will definitely be making a point to go back for some more on at least a bi-monthly basis, if not a monthly basis.

Not sure if cupping therapy can help you? While little has been actually scientifically proven, it is believed that cupping therapy can assist you with not only a sore muscle here or there, expelling toxins and such, but can be used to treat Facial paralysis, anemia and other blood disorders, arthritis, gynecological disorders, skin problems, migraines, anxiety and depression as well as different kinds of allergies, and much, much more. Ask your doctor first, and if you get the green light, I say why not give it a shot!

I know Lakeville might be a hike for some of you guys, so I looked up some facilities that provide cupping therapy in Southern Minnesota – here’s what I found:

Melanie’s Massage & Bodywork – 121 West Main Street, Owatonna, Minnesota 55060

Myo Health Massage – 418 Heritage Pl. Suite A, Faribault, MN, 55021

Sisters Salon & Day Spa – 1293 21st Avenue NW, Owatonna, MN 55060

Alpha Spine Health & Injury Center – 7644 160th St W, Lakeville, MN 55044


By Nicole Sweeney

SouthernMinn Scene | |
115 5th Street West Northfield, MN 55057