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Curious about cupping? So was I. As a copywriter who makes a career out of sitting at a desk all day long, my posture is pretty pissed at me most days—leading to chronic back, shoulder, and neck pain. When I started up weekly deep tissue massages, my masseuse asked me at the end of our session if I had ever tried cupping. That’s where my exploration into the world of this traditional medicine began.
If you’re a novice to this healing practice like I was, here are a few things to know before you book your first appointment!
While I’m well versed in the art of deep tissue massages, I knew essentially nothing walking into my first cupping session. What exactly *is* cupping, anyway?
Think of it as the opposite of a massage. Stay with me. Instead of applying pressure to the muscles, cupping uses suction to lift your fascia—if you didn’t know this word don’t worry, neither did I—which are the connective tissues in your body and your muscles. This suction creates healthier fascia, which equals more flexibility and improved muscle recovery.
Don’t let the red marks fool you; cupping isn’t painful. I’ll be honest, going into my first session I was pretty nervous about how my sensitive skin would react. I can honestly tell you that while the sensation was odd, it didn’t hurt at all.
You’ll feel a tightness in the area of the cup, and usually, the sensation is really relaxing. For my first experience, my practitioner used glass cups—instead of silicone—and a (completely safe) fire cupping technique. In total, the whole thing took about 10 minutes. Think friendly octopus.
Starting my research into cupping was overwhelming. There are several different methods, but the ones most practiced are:
- Moving Cupping: This form of cupping involves the practitioner applying oil to your skin before putting on the cups and then sliding them up and down your back. This is usually the type of cupping I do because it has a larger focus on the back.
- Fixed Cupping: For this type of cupping, the cups are applied and left in specific areas for a few minutes. This tends to be a stronger treatment, bringing up a lot of stagnation in the body, so it’s not always recommended for first-timers.
There are many types of cupping with glass, silicone—and even bamboo cups—used. Don’t know where to start? Talk with your practitioner at the beginning of your session. I spent 5 to 10 minutes before even laying down chatting with my practitioner about all of my symptoms so she could figure out the best technique. Don’t be afraid, speak up for your wellness!
Probably the biggest deterrent from starting cupping was seeing the gnarly marks people posted on their Instagram after a session. While my first experience looked like that friendly octopus went to town on my back, I was pleasantly surprised that it faded after 4-5 days.
My practitioner shed some wisdom on the subject, telling me that it all depends on the person and how static their fascia is. For me, I’m very tight (hence the back pain and constant need for massages), so it takes a little longer to fade back to normal. But for others with more active fascia, they don’t even show any marks, or it can fade after a day. Regardless of how long it takes, I like to think of it as a wellness badge of honor–a symbol of my lifelong commitment to improving my well-being, marks and all.
Last, but certainly not least, finding an experienced practitioner who you trust is key. I’ve been getting deep tissue massages for a little over a year now and only found two practitioners that I’ve connected with. When you feel a good vibe, and can fully trust someone with such an important task of your everyday wellness, keep them in your weekly routine.
While I know appointments like deep tissue massages and cupping are a privilege not everyone can partake in, they have both done amazing things for my physical and mental health. Not only has cupping helped improve my fascia and overall circulation, but it also has been an active part of my self-care routine and shown me that I am worth the work.
Interested in cupping? Book your first appointment on the Mindbody app! Prioritize your wellness and find a service you love, wherever you are.
February is Black History Month—a celebration of the achievements and contributions of African Americans in society. As the beauty and wellness industry becomes a more welcoming and inclusive space for all, we are taking this opportunity to continue to shine a light on the gap of inclusivity and diversity in our industry, and take action to promote, empower, and honor the Black community that shapes and grows wellness.
While the beauty industry is making improvements—it's important to showcase and support Black businesses and the creatives in this space every day. To honor them, we're shouting out some of our favorite Black-owned beauty and wellness businesses to support.
Beauty Bin is a full-service day spa and dry bar located in Asheville, NC. With a focus on inclusivity for people of all backgrounds, genders, and races, their MO is to match the outer beauty of every client to their inner beauty. From eyelash extensions and hydrafacials to waxing and massage, Beauty Bin is a one-stop-shop for all the spa services.
The KIKA Method® is a gentle assisted stretching process that loosens up tight muscles freeing your body from pain and stress. By practicing this method, clients can experience decreased muscle tension, increased energy, enhanced flexibility, a substantial reduction in stress, improved posture and relaxation, and increased mental clarity. While its headquarters is located in Las Vegas, NV, they have multiple locations sprinkled throughout the US, including Atlanta, New York City, and Dallas—just to name a few.
At Kimberly Coleman Salon, their philosophy begins with promoting healthy tresses, elegant sets, unique accouterments, perfect pampering of hands and feet, and precision cuts. Known for working with models and celebrities, they fully appreciate and celebrate the diversity of their clientele which also includes super moms and warrior dads.
Pressed Roots was developed with the simple concept in mind—that everyone deserves access to easy, and quality hair care. What started as a single pop-up shop in Boston, grew to a multi-city pop-up tour, and is now slated to be the largest national hair salon franchise specializing in the care and styling of highly textured hair, they launched their first flagship location in Dallas, TX.
Jersey City resident, Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez started SW3AT. The company began as a fitness apparel line in 2015 but evolved into a sanctuary catered to health and wellness now known as SW3AT Sauna Studio—the first infrared sauna studio in Jersey City. The healing power of infrared heat therapy is a phenomenal option for holistic health proven to strengthen the immune system and provide relief from joint stiffness and muscle pain. It is also supportive of any fitness program as it aids in weight loss (you can torch up to 900 calories in a 45-minute session) while also detoxifying your body from some of the most harmful toxins.
Kelli Coleman and Anika Jackson opened The TEN Nail Bar in Detroit to address a void in their city. They saw a need for a quality, modern nail bar that could also serve as a fun social space for Detroit’s residents and professionals. They designed the TEN to provide their clients with a #Perfect10 experience—where you can relax, enjoy music, a drink, your friends, a clean and precise manicure, and a much-needed break from all your hectic days.
Located in the beautiful downtown Hyde Park Chicago area, Bettye O Day Spa specializes in first-class treatments. They aim to nurture and relax each of their clients with individualized and innovative therapeutic techniques. From body wraps and massages to facials and hydrotherapy, this day spa promises to be a safe place for healing to occur.
Looking for more businesses to support? ClassPass has also created a list of Black-owned business to check out all year-round. While both of these lists are a great start to get you familiar with many of the Black-owned businesses either in your neighborhood or around the globe, we have only scratched the surface. We'd love to keep these lists growing.If you have any businesses you'd like to see on this list, click here to submit a Black-owned business we should be highlighting as well!