The Playbook For The Modern Man

I Tried ‘Cupping’ So You Didn’t Have To

Are the benefits homeopathic or real? Our correspondent investigates.

I’ve enjoyed some strange things in my life but ‘cupping’ beats even my girlfriend’s first attempt at Kombucha. However, being an ‘experience first, research later’ kind of guy, as I lay face down on Dr Cody’s table, for all I knew I was about to undergo some kind of 2019 leech therapy.

Fortunately, as my limited knowledge of cupping — a kind of ‘anti-massage’ which involves lifting rather than pressing your muscles — surfaced, Dr Cody reassured me that this ancient alternative medicine has been Westernised to the point where it is sought out by everyone from business executives to professional footy players.

Essentially though, cupping works like a deep tissue massage, causing disruption to your capillaries and increasing blood flow to the area. While some call it a giant scam yet to be supported by science, others (like Michael Phelps) say it really helps them.

But — placebo or not — when I went into Combined Clinic’s Darlinghurst clinic my neck was tighter than the precinct’s nightlife legislation and when I came out I felt ready for a warehouse disco.

If you are interested in the scientific debate as to how beneficial it really is, long term, head on over to WebMD or Medical News Today.

But if you want to hear what cupping feels like, and the immediate physical aftermath; this is one man’s guide to getting cupped.

The halfway point.

The Set-Up Is Very Professional

People like to dismiss this stuff as ‘nue-age’ but Dr Cody’s eagle eye soon became apparent. He asked me to perform a few brief tests, discovering that although I have good range of motion one way, my ability to tilt my head laterally is “horrific.” This then enabled him to determine where best to place the cups.

The Suction Doesn’t Hurt As Bad As You Think

Googling images of patients covered in giant boils before arriving was offputting. However, after Dr Cody lit the cotton ball inside each cup (to fill it with carbon dioxide, thereby creating suction) and put it on my back, I realised that although the ‘grabby’ sensation was a shock, it wasn’t too painful. And in the odd case that it became too much, he simply loosened the seal for a second to reduce the pressure.

But Moving The Cups Around Hurts Like Hell

Then came the more ‘massage-y’ element of the anti-massage: moving the cups. Suffice to say Dr Cody concluded I was a wuss.

It Doesn’t Actually Take That Long

Unlike some practitioners, who leave the cups on for hours (in some cases, bursting them with a pin and filling the cup with blood, but we won’t get into that) Dr Cody waited until the ‘boils’ reached a colour where the benefit was not going to be any greater if we waited longer, and took them off. This took about 5 minutes.

You Feel Looser, Immediately

As the last of the cups was removed I felt instantly more flexible — as if pinching parts of my neck and back muscles out of my skin had somehow elongated them.

You Will Bruise Quite A Lot

Pictures speak louder than words.

Immediately after.

8 hours after.

2 days after.

One week after.

The Loose Feeling Lasts A Few Days, But Not Much Longer

For me at least the enhanced flexibility lasted about 48 hours, until a late night with a laptop put me right back where I started. But just for those two days, I would say the experience was well worth it. However, Dr Cody recommended I wait a few weeks at least before doing it again, as it is important not to overstress your blood vessels.

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