Fire cupping therapy. Is it a gimmick?

By February 13, 2012 16 Comments

So i’ve been rather injured lately

Call it old age, bad form or just dumb-luck – who cares, I’m f*cking sore these days (too much of the time).

I’ve tried many a drug and technique for relieving the pain in my neck, shoulders and back – and I’ve discovered a lot of things along the way.

Mainly that I can’t shoulder press 10 times my weight like I used to, and that I seem to be shedding hair at the rate that Hollywood pumps out ‘sequels’.

If I was an ‘ant’, I’d be demoted to cleaning the Queen ants’ ‘bed-pan’ on a daily basis and little else.

The art of fire cupping. Is it a gimmick?

My own cupping experience left me with a temporarily ‘attractive’ back.

This brings me to fire cupping

What the heck, I thought. Nothing to lose but my dignity and my awesomely smooth non-leopardy back, I thought i’d give this ‘alternative’ technique a whirl. It’s been around for literally thousands of years – what’s the worst that could happen? Right?

What is fire cupping therapy exactly?

Straight from the internets the description is:

“Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps). It is known in local languages as baguan/baguar, badkesh, banki, bahnkes, bekam, buhang, bentusa, kyukaku, gak hoi, Hijamah, kavaa, singhi among others.”

More on the full description of cupping can be found here >

The art of fire cupping therapy. Is it a gimmick?

The heavier the bruising, the more ‘toxins’ were built up in the underlying area.

How would I relate my own fire cupping therapy experience?

So you pay your 15 bucks, they slap you down on an uncomfortable table with a hole in it (not what you’re thinking – it’s for your FACE).

They then stick these ‘suction-like’ cups all over your back whilst you lay there uncomfortably for what seems like somewhere between 5 minutes and eternity. I liken it to a form of torture akin to getting a tattoo – but perhaps slightly more gay.

It’s aggravating, uncomfortable and the ‘cups’ that hurt the most are the ones which seem to be removed last. 

At the end of the treatment…

After you’ve been deemed ‘cup-free’, you’re then allowed to sit up, check your welts in the mirror before grinning to the masseuse with an “I knew what I was in for so shut-up buddy” face.

You pay for the use of the ‘cups’ and stumble home to a hot-shower-free-afternoon coupled with the feeling of euphoria and the inability to take your shirt off in a public area ever again.

Did it work?

I hate gimmicks. I really do. So I was, of course, reluctant to give this therapy a try. I have to say, the first time I had it done (coupled with a deep tissue massage) it seemed to work (for a while).

I then came back from my honeymoon, hit the gym and before you know it – I was injured again with a longing for some kind of suction to be applied liberally to my back.

The second time around…

It didn’t seem to work ‘quite’ as well as the first time.

This could be due to the underlying shoulder injury which may have become increasingly worse, or perhaps the ‘cups were broken’ – who’s to say?

Would I try fire cupping therapy again?

Perhaps – But If the injury hangs around, I’ll probably see a doctor for additional advice and a second opinion.

He’ll probably tell me to stop lifting weights for 6 months at which point I’ll respond sharply with “GTFO”.

Until the next round of alternative treatments, this is Clint – signing off.

Clint’s Note: Have you ever experienced fire cupping therapy? Would you rate it? Comment below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

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