Here's What to Expect the First Time You Get Cupping

Welcome to The Now Age, our tribute to the fascinating and ever-evolving landscape of alternative wellness. From Reiki to plant medicine, we're taking a closer look at how holistic healing can factor into the modern woman's lifestyle—with curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism.

What Cupping Therapy Really Feels Like
Photo: Stocksy

When I lived in New York, I had a favorite Saturday ritual: After having a lazy breakfast in bed, I'd make my way to a community acupuncture clinic just a few subway stops away in Gowanus, Brooklyn. I'd spend two blissful hours here steeping myself in self-care, which would often go beyond the advertised needles. Depending on how I was feeling that day, my session might include an herbal consultation, for example. And often, it included some kind of cupping therapy.

The first time I got cupping felt like something of a novelty. I considered myself some kind of Gwyneth disciple as I walked out the doors of the clinic, telltale red marks on display beneath the flimsy straps of my tank top. But as I continued regular treatments, I felt my chronic shoulder pain continue to dissipate, and I realized that perhaps this was more than a Hollywood fad. And though I've lapsed a bit on the consistency since moving across the country—I haven't found a neighborhood haunt quite as special to me as my Brooklyn clinic—I know to book a cupping appointment when my back and neck start to twinge again.

But my own misgivings even as an always-curious wellness editor speak to the fact that there's a lot of misunderstanding around the efficacy of cupping and what it entails. (For starters, it doesn't hurt.) For a crash course in cupping 101, I deferred to Mona Dan—acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of Vie Healing, an airy holistic healing destination in Los Angeles. Find her answers to your most burning questions about cupping below.

Next up: Learn about the benefits of crystal healing, even if you're skeptical.