I did something new last week. I tried cupping for the first time. It has been a while since I have gotten a massage. I have wanted to try cupping for a while but didn’t know where to go. I then saw someone with cupping marks one day and asked where she went. This was back in August and I set my appointment for October, so it was a long time to wait. I wanted to recap my experience in how I felt during and after.
For my first experience, my therapist just used the suction cups, which is what I think I will continue to go with. The more intense version of cupping is called fire cupping where she lights the inside of the cup with a bit of alcohol and then places it on your back. The fire is not on your back, but the lighting of the flame helps to suck toxins out of your body more intensely than the suction cups. At least this is my understanding. She told me that athletes tend to stay with the suction cups and the fire cupping can be used for healing injuries.
During the session:
Throughout the session, my therapist explained what she was going to do and what to expect, which was really nice. She started out by placing the cups on my back and then while they suctioned, she rubbed my legs to prep them for cupping. She continued to check in on me and how they felt. None of them hurt. The sensation was just like a suction cup and after a few moments, you would forget they were even there. It actually was quite relaxing. Plus, since she was rubbing my legs while my back had the cups on, I was focused on those tight spots in my legs. I had done squats the morning before my cupping session.
She then placed the cups all over the backs of my legs and even one on each foot. That felt a bit weird, but again, nothing hurt. Then she came back to my back to remove the cups. I have no idea how much time passed. Removing them felt weird since I had gotten used to the sensation. She said the cup on my left shoulder had some water in it which meant it had sucked water from my body and usually that happens when the area is really tight or inflamed. I actually found this interesting because it’s my right shoulder that has bursitis so I would expect that from the right, but she said I may compensate and use my left more in lifting which could be very true.
Once removing the cups, she used a tool called a scraper. She mentioned to me that often this is the part people do not like because it can hurt. Basically it felt like a suction and then scooting it along my back and body. It felt like an intense foam roll session, super deep. I loved it. It felt so good on my back. Talking about my weightlifting and loving deep tissue massages, she figured I had a high pain tolerance haha.
She then moved onto my legs after removing those cups and then I flipped onto my back as she placed the cups on the front of my legs. I will say the most intense part of the session was this. The cups on the front of my legs were slightly uncomfortable for a bit as my right hamstring was tight and my left IT band was super tight. Then when it came to the scrapper on this side, it hurt (in a good hurt, deep foam rolling or yoga ball rolling way). She ended with rubbing my neck and shoulders and that felt AMAZING.
The night after:
When the hour session was over, she told me to slowly get up because the cupping removes toxins and can really dehydrate you. I did as I was told and paid and headed home. Immediately after the session I did not feel sore, but my stomach was growling as it had gotten my intestines going.
When I got home, I had chugged the bottle of water she gave me and drank tons more. As I was standing to get my dinner going, I could feel the dehydration kick in. I also just felt tired and the soreness started later in the evening. I was more than ready for bed by 9pm. She also advised me to take a day off from the gym and I was glad I did the next day.
The morning after:
I woke up so sore. I was glad I “slept in” aka didn’t go to the gym at 5am. I actually don’t know how I would have even been able to lift in the morning. I know I didn’t hydrate enough prior to the cupping, because I was still playing catch up with water. I ate a big breakfast because I was also quite hungry and as I was driving to work, I started to feel nauseous a bit. The first few hours in the morning, I took little sips of water and ate my snack super early. I felt better a couple hours into work, but I could tell the cupping was working and detoxing. Also I didn’t sleep the greatest, because my back was sensitive to touch and lay on.
A full 24 hours after (around 6pm the following day):
This is when I finally started to feel better. Though my back was still sensitive so I couldn’t actually scrub it in the shower and laying on it was still not super comfortable. I was not as tired and my body was feeling more mobile and light.
My session was on a Tuesday and Thursday morning I returned to the gym and felt great!! Just like she said, I would be sore but then the next day I would feel great. The marks were mainly on my back. I had a few faintly show on my upper thighs. By Saturday, most had faded and I expected them to last around a week.
To sum up my experience, I really did love it. I even signed up for another appointment in December. I think it was great at removing toxins (I know everyone doesn’t believe in that sort of thing), but a little TMI, I was pooping a ton more. The session was like a deep tissue/intense foam rolling. My sister said it looked like I was attacked by an octopus LOL. I definitely think next time I will focus on drinking more water the two days before because I know I was already slightly dehydrated going in and I hope that will reduce my chance of being a little nauseous the next day.
Have you tried cupping? Would you want to?