A Cup of Relief — My First Experience With Cupping

May 6, 2019 by Valentine J. Brkich

Being a writer, a lot of my time is spent hunched over a computer. Unfortunately this sedentary occupation wreaks havoc on the muscles of my upper back and neck, which, in turn, does a real number on my overall disposition. Just ask my wife. 

I’ve tried a lot of different things to relieve my chronic upper back and neck pain over the years, everything from massage to chiropractic to, most recently, acupuncture , all of which have been effective to some level. One thing I’ve always wanted to try, however, was cupping. Luckily my friend Shawn at Free Spirit Acupuncture & Wellness invited me in recently to give it a try.

I’ll admit I was a little nervous as I laid facedown and waited for Shawn to heat up each of the eight small glass cups (which, by the way, reminded me of the little fishbowls you see at those carnival win-a-gold-fish, ping-pong-ball-tossing games). Something about applying heated glass to my bare skin didn’t sound too appealing.

For those of you not familiar with this ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cupping is a type of therapy wherein small glass cups are used to draw congested blood and energy to the surface. The therapist uses a flame to heat the air inside the cups, and when they’re placed on your back the air cooling creates a vacuum. The purpose of this 3000-year-old technique is to provide relief and healing by breaking up stagnation and congestion within the body. The suction actually loosens muscles and encourages blood flow, helping to release any nasty toxins that have built up in the application area. In addition to providing pain relief, cupping can be used to treat a variety of issues, including but not limited to: high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines, fatigue, congestion, asthma, and even cellulite.

But as he applied each cup to the overly tight muscles of my upper back, all I felt was a pleasant warming sensation along with the bizarre but painless sensation of the cups snugly attached to my skin. It was as if I had a giant, lovable octopus on my back, just without all the sliminess or seawater smell. 

The entire procedure didn’t last much longer than five minutes, and when it was over I could immediately feel relief in my upper back and neck. The tightness was suddenly gone and, thankfully, so was the pain. The only downside (if you can even call it that) of the whole experience were the circular bruises left on my back after removing the cups. But, I was told, those wouldn’t last much more than a week at most. Besides, they would give me the opportunity to freak out my kids, which is always fun.

Sure, maybe I looked like I walking Connect Four game when I stepped out of the office that day, but it was a small price to pay to be feeling pain-free for the first time in a long while. 


If you’d like to give cupping a try or learn about any of Free Spirit’s many other wellness services, contact us today at 724-774-8729.

Source: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/09/20/many-benefits-chinese-cupping-1