I received a massage gift certificate for my birthday back in December. After a particularly stressful week, I finally made the time to go in for my session. What happened then was a bit unexpected.

I'd had massages before but nothing as extensive as this. I carry most of my stress in my neck and shoulders but my massage therapist noticed I also had a lot of knots and tension in my back. She said she wanted to try something out on me, then asked if I'd ever done cupping therapy before. My response was a resounding "no" but I was quite relaxed at this point and she seemed convinced it would help.

Cupping is an ancient form of alternative medicine used to relieve pain, increase blood flow and is intended to remove toxins from the body. The cups create suction, and are normally left on the skin for a period of 5 to 15 minutes. The most noticeable "side effect" is circular purple bruising on the treated area, such as the ones Michael Phelps sported during the Rio Olympics last summer.

Here are the results of my cupping experiment:

Long story short (too late), cupping SEEMS really odd and painful, but it wasn't bad at all. There isn't a lot of scientific evidence supporting the benefits, but if it's good enough for Michael Phelps it's good enough for me. Not sure if I'll be winning any gold medals in the near future, though.

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