What we will remember about the 2016 Rio Olympics: the Final Five, Ryan Lochte’s robbery story, the Williams sisters’ loss, and those circular red welts Michael Phelps sported for the men’s 4 x 100 relay.
Although “cupping” has been practiced for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, Phelps created a stir when he, along with several other Olympians, sang its praises to relieve muscle pain and tension.
I immediately booked an appointment.
Jalashree Pradhan of Lake Pointe Chiropractic & Wellness is one of those gifted and gentle healers whose name gets whispered at happy hours and book clubs. If anyone is going to place fire-filled glass cups on my back, it’s going to be her.
When I arrive, Pradhan assures me that I don’t need to be a super athlete to benefit from cupping. She treats everyone from moms training for a 5K to professionals who spend too much time in front of a laptop. Cupping can also strengthen the immune system, aid digestion, clear congestion from the common cold and upper respiratory illness, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
During the treatment, fire momentarily heats the inside of small glass cups to create a suction effect on the skin as the air inside the cup cools. When Pradhan starts applying the cups along either side of my spine, where the major meridians connect to the body’s major organ systems, I feel a cold tug on my skin. It’s not painful, more of a pinch, and it’s strongest where I carry the most tension.
As my muscles begin to loosen, the cups release some of the suction and Pradhan is able to glide the cups over my back to further stimulate acupressure points and relieve stubborn knots. The sensation is more relaxing than the best deep-tissue massage I’ve had.
It’s also more effective. After the 30-minute treatment, my shoulders melt down my back for the first time in years and my entire body feels limber and light.
How often can I get cupped? I ask, excited about my “discovery.”
Weekly, until you stop getting bruises, says Pradhan.
I had forgotten about the bruises. Now I see them, an angry red army marching from my neck to my lower back.
For better or worse, our bodies are terrible liars; cupping offers a visual into that inner world. If you are sore, sick, stressed, it’s going to show up. But the bruises from cupping are a good thing, indicating an increase in bloodflow, bringing more oxygen to the tissues.
Despite the visual shock of the welts, which don’t hurt and will disappear after three to six days, I find it empowering to be able to see the benefits of cupping in real time.
“Cupping wakes the body and taps into its innate healing abilities,” Pradhan says.
Need more proof? See Phelps’s 23 gold medals.
$50 for a 30-minute appointment including Tui Na Chinese pressure massage, Lake Pointe Chiropractic & Wellness, 5000 W. 36th St., Ste. 120, Mpls., 612-922-8100, lpwellness.com