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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.
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.