Michael Phelps aroused global curiosity about cupping during Rio 2016 (and made circular hickies cool), and Jennifer Anniston and Lady Gaga apparently embrace it too.
That makes them all bloody crazy because cupping, a form of a Traditional Chinese Medicine that involves using glass suction cups to create a vacuum that sucks your soul out through your pores, hurts like a mean thing.
I went through one session yesterday, and the only way I can see it helping alleviate pain is by replacing said pain with a whole new level of pain that scares the first one out of existence (fully explaining the expression on Phelp’s face below).
My back, which was not in pain before yesterday, now feels like The Rock tried to stand on my shoulders. And then danced along to Van Halen’s Jump. It also looks like I got into a fight with the Children of Thanos – and lost.
So why, you might ask, did I even agree to partake of this ancient pain ritual, especially since – despite my high pain threshold – I don’t even enjoy massages? Well, I’m still fighting the tail end of this flu on the cusp of starting stimming, and it inspired extreme intervention on the part of my acupuncturist. We had already pushed back the cycle by a week on account of it.
“We need to get rid of this cold. I shall cup,” my acupuncturist said decisively, right after my acupuncture session. I didn’t know to argue (IVFers are extremely good at taking instructions, especially when the fate of a cycle hangs in the balance).
The only other things she added were:
- “This might feel a little hot.”
- “The marks will disappear in a few days.”
Those were understandably better options than:
- “This is good prep for the day a zombie tries to reach down your throat to extricate your kidneys, one at a time.”
- “You’re going to look like a battered wife for a while.”
There is apparently a method to her madness (although the benefits of cupping have been largely anecdotal rather than research-based). Apart from pain relief, cupping is believed to also stimulate the immune system by liberating stagnated circulation and drawing toxins to the surface to be properly metabolised. It is also supposed to help with aches and pains, stress, energy levels, weight-loss and fertility by stimulating blood flow.
It was most uncomfortable 15 minutes I have been through in recent times (since stabbing yourself daily, flashing your ladybits every other, and having acupuncture needles sticking out of your scalp and nose is now considered normal).
First came some kind of oil that was rubbed into my shoulders and back by an unseen metal object and the determination of someone who has had a really bad day. She then used a flame to heat the cups and create a vacuum before they were placed on my skin. And then I sat there trying not to inhale too deeply because every spare inch of my skin had been suctioned into those cups, leaving my eyelids the only part of me that were still capable of free movement.
It did not “hurt so good“, and I did not feel any kind of post-cupping high that folks claim exist. I did, however, pull off a Phelps by exiting the treatment room in a record-breaking time once she was done.
Anyway, it remains to be seen if she successfully suctioned this virus out of me, or simply pissed it off further. I woke up still sniffly (and hurting from the bruises), but am hoping that gets better over the course of the day.
I am also retreating back into a world free of these crazy circular hickies, and where the only cupping therapy I want involves medium-roasted beans.