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Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I had a serious case of "crick in the neck" for about two weeks.  It was my left neck/shoulder area and I just could not get it to go away.  Some mornings were better, some were much worse.  In speaking about this with an acquaintance, she suggested I try an ancient Chinese therapy called "cupping."  I'd read about it before, and it looked like something out of a bad science fiction movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  

In any case, this great place called Center for the Healing Arts in Fort Worth offered the service and, honestly, I'd been looking for a reason to go there.  Earlier this year, I sought out the assistance of an acupuncturist for my sleep issues and went to a practitioner recommended by a friend.  Let's just say, the location and office of this practitioner was a little suspect.  I knew that the place in Fort Worth would be most costly, but now I know why.  You pay for what you get!  And when someone is sticking needles in your body, you want the utmost confidence in them.  

The frustration of the crick in the neck finally got to me and I scheduled an appointment for last Friday to get "cupped."  If you've never heard of this technique before, watch the video on CBS News here.  If you're too lazy to do that, I can briefly describe it.  Imagine a small glass globe.  The practitioner takes a ball of cotton soaked in alcohol and lights it on fire.  Then they briefly put the cotton ball into the glass globe, remove it, then immediately place the opening on your back.  As the fire burns off the oxygen, it sucks your skin up into the globe.  This causes blood to rush to the area. 

From a Chinese medicine standpoint, it is said to open the meridians allowing better flow of Qi (chi).  It causes toxins to be brought to the surface and released, which is said to be the cause of the lingering hickey like bruises all over your back.  From my standpoint, it's like a reverse deep tissue massage.  One deeper than you've ever felt, also because it's happening in reverse with a pull motion rather than a push.  

Ok, are you ready for the photographic evidence?  This is how I looked an hour after the therapy...  

These marks lingered for days and have only finally started to fade to a bruise-y yellow.  I have worn strategically high collared shirts and cardigans since then.  As far as how it felt, it felt like I had definitely had a rough massage even though the therapy itself is rather mild.  I was sore deep in the muscles and my skin felt sunburned.  How was the crick in my neck, you ask?  It, particularly, was better.  But the rest of my back was so sore it was hard to tell.  The practitioner had said that even though the pain was in my left shoulder, I was much more tense in the right side.  So after the therapy, my right side was in more discomfort.  

Though it's no miracle cure, it did help break the crick in the neck cycle, but I feel that more therapy will be done on me...soon.  Hopefully it's like waxing...the more you do it, the less it hurts and the less your body reacts to the pain. I wouldn't know, though, because after my first wax, I vowed never to do it again.  

So, there you have it ("a letter opener," for all your MST3K fans), cupping.  Weird, but kinda cool.  

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