Lately I’ve been spending too much time sitting down at my brutal plastic chair in front of my desk, and pair that with adopting a new sleeping-on-my-back pose, my back is not happy. So I took two cents from Jennifer Aniston, who I feel looks to be the pinnacle of health and beauty, and decided to try cupping therapy (which also has the added benefit of looking pretty badass, if I do say so myself.)
The first thing you should know about cupping therapy, is that there’s not just one type – and I found out the hard way.
I booked a local spa around the corner from me, and all seemed well and good until my therapist asked what areas I would like worked on. “My back and shoulders please, as they’re pretty sore from sitting in a very bad, very not-Eames office chair.” My therapist seemed quite surprised, considering that it’s very unusual to have cellulite on my back and shoulders… “Cellulite?” “Yes, this is cellulite-preventative cupping.” A warning sense of foreboding ran through me, as somewhere suppressed in my memory a previous and very painful experience at the Henri Chenot spa involved both cups and cellulite.
“Why not just try it? It’s very good for your skin, and if you don’t like it, I can just give you a deep tissue massage instead.” So away I went, and lay down on my front like an idiot. Spying with my turned head, I saw she brought out some nasty little cups, with a diameter about the size of an espresso cup. On she slathered the Eucalyptus oil, and she placed those nasty little cups directly down my TFL and started pumping the air out of them. Now, let me tell you, it was uncomfortable for sure, but it wasn’t until she started moving them around like she was a trickster stationed on Times Square baiting tourists into finding the penny underneath one of them that I felt my hell had truly begun.
I think I withstood about five solid minutes before I decided that to hell with cellulite, I liked my legs and bottom just the way they were, cellulite included. Anything to be free of this tiny-cup prison cell I had gotten myself into. A deep tissue massage it was.
Round two: I hightailed it down to Gin Sen therapy in Kensington – a clean and small clinic that specialises in Eastern therapy. As expected, there was no fluffing about; my therapist got right down to it. I stripped down to my cashmere sweatpants (which I seemingly live in at the moment – how does 0ºC in London feel colder than 0ºC in the Swiss alps?) and lay on my front. I did feel a bit nervous when she wiped me down with a thin layer of oil on my back – was she going to move them around like the other lady I had? Do I brace for pain? – but luckily enough, it was just to make sure the cups had extra suction to stick. I opted to go for fire cupping, which is a type of dry cupping (as opposed to wet cupping which includes blood… don’t panic, I’ll explain later), where the therapist lights a towel on fire and holds it inside of the cup before placing the cup on you, thereby both heating the cup and creating an air vacuum inside, so the cup sticks.
The whole process took 20 minutes, and she came in about three separate times to change the cups placement. Unlike my first (unfortunate) experience with cupping, this time it was not painful at all. It feels quite like you would expect, with only a bit of pressure. After the initial wariness of feeling your skin tightening and suck inside the cup, it was a rather soothing experience, but the ultimate calm didn’t happen until I was walking home. Bear in mind it was near to zero degrees Celsius, and a 30-minute walk, the whole time I felt like I was lying on a heated blanket, and also floating upon a cloud. It happened: my back was finally happy – and not only that, it was almost pleased with me.
To keep the good times rolling, you should do cupping therapy about once a week to increase blood flow – which in turn soothes sore muscles and tones down inflammation. In return it leaves you with some pretty gnarly bruises that you can scare your friends with, all while being as smug as Jennifer Aniston.
If you really want to push the boat out, there’s also something called “wet cupping” which is not for a faint of heart. It involves tiny incisions on the area of focus and the cup placed over the top, effectively drawing your blood out and clearing out “congestion” and increasing blood flow, and supposedly improving lymphatic flow.
I think for now I’m sticking with the dry cupping, although my therapist did also recommend acupuncture, so I guess that’s next up on my increasingly wild beauty bucket list. Wish me luck!