So, I’m a big fan of the Chinese way to look after the body continuously, rather than the Western way of wait for it to break and try and fix it. With this in mind, I decided to try Cup Therapy or Cupping. I’ve been here about 10 weeks and carrying a 12lb plus baby with little sleep (not from her, the aircon is a bit tempremental) does play a lot on the body. I usually try and fit in a sports massage between jobs, to aleviate some of the tension in my shoulders and back and this seemed like a good thing to try. I had been told about a good place to go across the water in Kowloon and on my next day off, was taken there by Jasmine, with us meeting in Lai King.
There are apparently two types of cupping. There is the glass cup variation (which is what I had) and cupping done with plastic cups.
The specific origin of Cupping Therapy remains in obscurity. The action of suction has been part of therapeutic efforts throughout human history, following tribes along migratory routes. Ancient cultures used hollowed out animal horns, bones, bamboo, nuts and seashells to purify the body from bites, pustules, infections and skin lesions. In China, extensive research has been carried out on Cupping, and the practice is a mainstay of Traditional Chinese Medicine hospitals.
We had an hour or so to kill so J suggested I try Bubble Tea.
I must admit, I was slightly hesitant, but it’s a very popular drink over here. We had the basic bubble tea, unsweetened, and my first thought was “cold tea” which I’m not a huge fan of. It’s a Taiwanese drink with chewy tapioca balls or fruit jellies added to it. It wasn’t offensive and a bit strange chewing on the pearls that come up through the thick straw. I don’t think I’ll have it again, though, to be honest.
Sipping on our drinks, I was then taken to an area that I probably couldn’t find again, which was away from busy, touristy Hong Kong. J had explained to the lady that this was my first time (be gentle!) and, as she spoke no English, I was to say “ok” and “not ok” depending on what I was confortable with. That sorted, J went off for her relexology and I was left alone to strip down to my knickers, wrap a towel round myself and lie down. I had nearly two hours booked which was 45 mins of massage to loosen the muscles and then the cupping therapy, once she had found the parts that needed work on .
The woman was extremely thorough. I know that my shoulders are always tight from carrying the babies and previous massage therapists have had to work really hard, so I was prepared for a bit of (good) pain. She really did work hard. I kept hearing her tutting as she kept going back to shoulder area and would gently pat me, making soothing sounds if I squeaked. I can rememeber thinking at one point, “Oh, God, she has to do the other side now” so it was by no means a relaxing massage. 😉 I felt like a piece of meat that was being prepared for cooking.
And now for the cupping. After lathering me up in oil, I could hear a the clink of glass as she placed a box of them between my legs, so she could work quickly. I then heard a lighter light up and felt her place the cup on my lower spine and run it up and down my back. “Not so bad” thinks I. Once this was done, she then got down to business, lighting and placing one after the other across my back and shoulders. Apparenty, if you have less fat on your back it’s more uncomfortable as the skin is being stretched out. I did make painful noises and at one point I said “not ok” on a particulary sore area on my shoulders, but she made blowing sounds, and I found that if you breathe through it, like in labour (yes, I know I haven’t given birth and have no idea on that) it’s bearable. Once my back was covered, she covered it with a towel to keep it warm and got back to working on my legs and giving me some lyphatic drainage.
Then she did the lower part of my back and then flipped me over to work on my tummy and put cups on my shoulders. At one point she pointed to my left shoulder and then to my right, so I could see the difference in colour of the marks left behind. This was my first sight of the markings and I was startled to say the least. I knew what to expect, but it’s another thing having it on your own body. She then finished by bringing my legs up to my chest to loosen me and a bit of massage on my skull. I was like a limp rag afterwards. I just lay there. J poked her head through to check I was still alive and I really felt like I had no energy. Finally, I got my clothes on and went outside to get my diagnosis. I was greeted with a cup of warm water and told not to drink anything cold today (so that was white wine and beer out of the window). My diagnosis was that I had a lot of fire (toxins) especially in my shoulders and around my lower back area; worse on my left (which is the side I carry the babies) and the right side of the hip. All stuff I knew already, really. She also told me that I don’t sleep well at night. Also true. The more times you go, the more the toxins are drawn out to the surface so the blood can move around freely below. Also, if I went often, I wouldn’t have such dark marks. I did feel looser after it; my shoulders felt lighter, but I also felt extremely tired.
Four days later and the marks are fading. More so down my spine and buttocks. My shoulders still have dark circles and some of them are changing colour to green and yellow bruising. I actully think this is more from the massage, than the cups, as she really went for it. I’ve also been drinking loads of warm water, to flush the toxins through. It’s funny that no-one turns a blind eye over here, it’s just part of life. Although, I was talking to the Chinese Grandmother about it and she laughed and said I was more Chinese than her! 😉
I think I would have it again, possibly not here as my time is running out, but I shall look for it in the UK; I suspect it shall be more than £30 for 2 hours though 😉