Review: Cupping for Christmas – What is Cupping Therapy all about?!

Barr humbug. I generally don’t like Christmas. The madness of Market Street, Mariah Carey songs on repeat everywhere you chuffing go. The shorter days and miserable weather. But this year I thought, I’m going to give it a whirl. So, to soften the blow of Christmas shopping, I took myself for an afternoon of pampering. Why not? Tis the season after all.

Massage veteran

When I lived in Vietnam, massages were a guilty pleasure of mine.  I used to get at least one a week. My attraction to massages sprang from my constant struggle with neck and backpain.  Playing contact sports coupled with a car accident in my teens, had left me with problems with my back and neck for years. Usually opting for the deep tissue massage, I wanted something that was more relaxing yet still equally as beneficial. I was ready to sample anything that might relieve my aches and tension.

Friday night zen

As soon as I entered the spa, it was an instant relaxant, a massive juxtaposition to the craziness that is ‘town’ on a Friday in the run up to Christmas. Entering Spa Satori, I was greeted by warm smiles, a soothing lavender and wheat heat pack for my shoulders and offered a range of herbal teas. All this while I completed the Spas health questionnaire, already I felt pampered and I had just walked through the door. Explaining my issues between sips of herbal tea, the therapist asked whether I’dbe interested in trying cupping therapy.  I was a bit hesitant,  I decided to give it a go as it sounded like it was just the treatment I was looking for.

The words ‘cupping therapy’ conjured up all sorts of weird images. Having seen the results of cupping therapy on my friends whilst traveling in Asia, the last thing I wanted was to look like I had been attacked with a hoover, a week before the works Chrimbo’do. Not a good look in my backless glitzy LBD.
Silicone cups used at Spa Satori in our cupping massage
Various sizes of the silicone cups used in our cupping massage

What IS cupping anyway?

However at Spa Satori, the massage cupping technique does not result in the discoloration of the skin, unlike the traditional Chinese methods. The technique used at Spa Satori is less invasive using silicone cups to apply suction to certain areas of the body, which still gains comparable results as the traditional means, but without looking like you have love bites all over your back for a week. Phew.
The cups are placed over the areas where pain is present, and then the air is sucked up which pulls the skin and tissue into the cup.  It allows the massage to penetrate deeper into the tissue which was perfect, as the main reason for my massage was to soften my tightened muscles and loosen knots built up over the years.
The therapist at Spa Satori informed me that massage cupping can be used to treat ailments like
  • stiff muscles
  • stress, migraines
  • fatigue and
  • exhaustion,
  • and back and neck pain.

Instead of exerting pressure on the different points of the body for healing, massage cupping usessuction to tug the skin, tissues and muscles upwards.

Tell me more, tell me more

My therapist was really kind and thorough.  She started off our session by asking me lots of questions about my lifestyle, and the type of pain I usually get, and where. She began with a light foot massage, which was great after stomping around town all morning. The therapist really listened to my needs and offered me a range of different scents to fill the air whilst being pampered. She furthermore asked me what oils I would like during the treatment. I opted for the destress oil which was a mixture of lavender, orange and sandalwood, it smelt amazing and helped to further relax me.
After the foot massage, followed a firmer massage of the areas where I had the most pain, concentrating mainly on the tension in my shoulders with the larger cups. I couldn’t really feel a suction in the areas where the cup touched, and instead, the massage felt more relaxing than a deep tissue, but with all the benefits of deeply manipulating the muscles.
Each cup was carefully positioned, and then a hand-pump was used to suck the air out.  The therapist then used the cups to glide over my back, paying extra care to tease my knots and melt my tension away. Already, I could feel that my muscles were less tender.  Once finished, I got dressed and was offered further refreshments and after care treatment in the spas reception area. I sat for a further 5 minutes with yet another herbal tea, feeling pampered from the moment I walked in, to the moment I left the spa.

Detox like it’s Christmas…

Before I start, let me tell you about a discovery I made at Spa Sataori – a brilliant thing called a Detox Box, which was like a sauna but uses infrared technologies. Much more comfortable than a sauna (and more effective, so my therapist told me). In a candlelit room, I changed into my robe and sat in the detox box, listening to relaxing music, letting the stresses of the day melt away. This was such a lovely extra touch that Spa Satori offered in addition to my treatment, and I feel that my whole experience was definitely  value for money.

And a week later – what’s the skinny?

It’s been a week after my massage and unlike traditional Chinese cupping, this treatment left no marks or bruising even the cups and massage penetrate quite deeply into your muscle tissue. The therapist advised me to drink lots of water after the treatment and I have felt no adverse effects, only deep relaxation and less tense muscles. I would certainly have another cupping massage.  The massage seems to have made a huge difference to my back and neck pain, not to mention being a very relaxing experience in the midst of the Christmas chaos.
When booking a massage, make sure that you go to a licensed practitioner.  I would heavily recommend Spa Satori, handily located in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Be sure to tell them if you have any particular areas that you want them to focus on or avoid.   Overall, it was a really great experience.