Hot Dog Delight

Cupping.

Posted on: December 16, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I got a full body massage.  It was my second time getting the full body experience, but this time, there was an added treat.  For 60RMB and 1 hour, I got the ultimate experience:  a massage, a back scraping, and cupping.

I’m not really sure of the reasoning behind back scraping or cupping.  All I know is that it’s supposed to be good for you.  I was visiting a fellow volunteer in another town, and there were 3 of us altogether in a room.  We decided to go all out and experience the trifecta of massages.

I giggled and laughed throughout most of the massage part because my friends were joking around and also because the massage tickled, but overall it was nice.  I generally don’t like it when strangers, or anyone for that matter, touch me, knead my skin, or any of the like.  I am extremely ticklish and it usually ends up feeling uncomfortable rather than enjoyable, but I’m trying to break that habit while I’m in China, since massages are so cheap.

Anyhow, my masseuse massages my head, my neck, my legs, and I’m quite comfortable at this point.  Then she takes out this plastic contraption that looks like a back-scratcher with longer prongs, and proceeds to apply pressure down my spine.  She scratches my back, all along the spine and shoulder areas for approximately 20 minutes.  She uses force, and tells me that I have a lot of tension, a lot of negative energy coming from the shoulder areas.  I feel pain.  I feel like my skin is being scraped off my back and that if I were to look at it, it would be a bloody mess.  She asks if it hurts, I tell her yes.  She tells me that it’s supposed to.  It’s good for me.  It means that she’s getting rid of all the negative energies.  I want to cry, but I carry on with the experience with my eyes shut, trying to think happier thoughts.

She then applies hot oil on my back, and it feels good again.  She massages my back with the hot oil.  I’m really enjoying this part.  Her touch is soothing.  Little do I know, she is only prepping me for cupping.  Cupping is this crazy thing where they apply a cup of reduced air pressure to your skin.  They light the cup with a match so that it can suction and graft to your skin.  You can see what it looks like in the photos below.  I didn’t have a camera with me to document my own experience, but just imagine twice as many cups down that girl’s back and you’ll have an accurate picture of what I looked like.  There were cups running down my spine, as well as on either side of my back, and up my neck too.  I was cupped out.

She kept the cups on for approximately 10 minutes.  I thought that once the cups were on, it would feel relaxing.  I was wrong.  From the moment the cups touched my skin, until the moment she finally took them off, I was in pain.  Not excruciating pain, but I was fully aware of the hot, uncomfortable suction on my back.  I was relieved when it was over and she started peeling them off.

Apparently you are supposed to have cupping no more than once a month if you are healthy and every couple of weeks if you are suffering from an ailment, according to my masseuse.  Cupping leaves your back full of deep red, pink and purple circles, like this:

My back was sore for several days after, and the marks took about a week to finally disappear.  Even though I felt somewhat relaxed after the whole experience, I think I’m going to stick with plain, old massages from here on out.  Scraping and cupping are simply not my cup of tea.

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3 Responses to "Cupping."

omg diane when i first read cupping, my mind wandered to the masseuse’s hands… hahahaha. but then i saw that picture and it looks painful!!!

glad to read about you taking advantage of the cheap massages! you didn’t go back to the same place as before, did you?

also, are you running???? i can’t wait until you come back! <3333 happy holidays!

Definitely stick to massage only. Wow. Ouch.

took me awhile, but finally caught up on your blog. OMG – what a story…can’t believe what I’m reading. I’ve had cupping (without the fire/scraping – during accupunture – but, a milder form – not anything like this). This sounds and must have felt like “torture”. Maybe you should try another place – and yes, go for the plain massage.

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