Whoever likes cupping is a masochist.

I woke up today with an aching back and a stiff neck for reasons I don’t really know, but I can probably blame my sleeping position, maybe. My back feels like a plank of wood which I can’t move, I can’t even move my shoulders – not even to shrug. Anyhow, so I was suffering the whole day and my Chinese colleague even gave me a mini acupressure massage at the office (the joys having a multicultural workplace). She told me that I should go for acupuncture to treat it which is an advice that I gladly followed as soon as I got out of work.

I went to TCM Acupuncture Therapy Center which is not one of those questionable massage parlors scattered around Al Barsha. There were two Chinese men waiting for their turn, one Caucasian guy who I overheard went there for a leg injury that he got from playing football and a Lebanese woman who looks like a regular in that place as the receptionist was talking to her in a more personal level. In my head I was thinking that if this place gets Chinese regulars then it must be good, so I patiently waited for my turn with the receptionist as she handed out the receipt to a Chinese lady who just finished her session.

I told the receptionist what my problem was: a stiff neck and a backache, I asked her if acupuncture is the best treatment that I should do to cure it? She asked me if this is the first day of this problem then she can probably recommend a head, shoulder and back massage instead. Well to tell you honestly, I was not really all excited for an acupuncture as I hate needles. Knowing myself with a threshold of pain close to none, I don’t think I will ever get over the idea that I will prick myself with dozens of needles to cure an aching back. So I accepted her offer of a head, shoulder and back massage.

I was lead to a small room and my masseuse asked me to remove my shirt. She covered my back with a warm towel which gave me an instant relief from the muscle pain. She then started to glide her hands on my back and she immediately gasped in surprise: Oh my God! Your back is so stiff! See? See? Can you feel the “click click” sound when I put pressure on it? When was the last time you had a massage? Two years ago?

I wasn’t sure if I’d laugh because of her unapologetic frankness or if I should take offense on the bad things that she just said about my back? Well it’s actually true that I can hear the “click click” sound everytime she puts pressure on my back, specially that area in between my ribs. It was both painful and relieving for me, more on pain though. She then told me that I must have a 1-hr massage and not only 30 minutes, she didn’t sound like she’s trying to upsell on me or something – she sounded more like I absolutely need it, so I said yes. She then suggested that she will also do the cupping on me for 5 minutes at no extra cost just so my back will not be as stiff as it is and I will be relieved from pain more quickly. I then said yes again.

For those of you who are not aware of cupping:


Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps).

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) cupping is a method of applying acupressure by creating a vacuum on the patient’s skin to dispel stagnation — stagnant blood and lymph, thereby improving qi flow — to treat respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis.[citation needed] Cupping also is used on back, neck, shoulder and other musculoskeletal conditions.

Source: Wikipedia

Well to tell you honestly, I have been wanting to try it out because as you can see on the photo, it looks relaxing. Well believe you me, it’s not! It’s not at all relaxing – at least for me. As soon as my lovely masseuse placed all of the cups on those problematic areas of my back, I winced in pain and asked her to immediately take it off. The cups didn’t even stay on my back for more than 60 seconds and I was already in pain. When I got home, this was what my back looks like:


Well just imagine if I did let the masseuse leave those cups on my back for 5 minutes as what she was intending to do. I don’t blame her though since I have a very low tolerance in pain which some people doesn’t quite understand. I am currently lying on my bed now and my back no longer feels like wood, it actually feels like a hundred horse ran over me. So yes, whoever loves to do this sadistic procedure is a masochist. I’m not saying though not to do it because it does have some really good benefits, it’s just not for me as it’s too painful for the sissy that I am.

Amount paid: AED180 for 1hr of head, shoulder, back massage with less than a minute of cupping. 🙂

Day 2 update: left photo was taken at the same time that I created the blog, right photo was taken the next day. It turned dark violet. My back is now normal though, I mean I can move it now and it doesn’t feel like a wooden plank anymore. The bruises though are hurting like hell. Just the bruise now, at least. :-/



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  • S. April 2, 2014 at 08:17

    I do cupping every month at TCM as my blood circulation is not so well nor is my stomach. I have to say that it is hurting at the beginning but the pain is gone and it helps reactivating energy, I am no doctor, but for me it works and I do recommend it,

  • HELP! | Pinay Flying High June 12, 2013 at 00:25

    […] at some point if I don’t it to be worst. In fact, just a few days prior I have posted a blog about me doing a cupping on my back since it was really […]

  • katafrass June 4, 2013 at 00:16

    bahahaha! I’m sorry, but this is kind of hilarious…I’m sorry it hurt so much, that part isn’t funny, but the marks it left behind are just ridiculous!! Note to self: NEVER GET CUPPING

    • Pinay Flying High June 4, 2013 at 08:48

      It is hilarious, the marks. My boyfriend told me i look like a swiss cheese and my friend told me i look like a cupcake baking tray. Thank goodness it’s not the 2-pc season here, imagine if it is. Lol.

  • Michael May 30, 2013 at 21:15

    Wow! He asked for another? Now THAT is impressive.. 🙂

  • Mitzie Mee May 30, 2013 at 05:01

    I’ve been curious about cupping, but I don’t like anything that hurts (even Thai massage can be too painful sometimes), so cupping is probably not for me:)

    • Pinay Flying High May 30, 2013 at 07:14

      I love thai massage but cupping is such a torture. 🙁

  • nadamohammed May 27, 2013 at 12:52

    Sorry to hear about your back problem! I saw the picture on your Facebook yesterday, but I didn’t think it belonged to you!
    I don’t think I ever want to try cupping! I have very sensitive skin and I’m sure the result will look severe.

  • Dolce Diana May 27, 2013 at 10:55

    Haha I did this years ago,,, a friend brought me to a Chinese place for acupuncture. The needles were ok,,,,but the cupping,,,never again!!! :p

    • Pinay Flying High May 27, 2013 at 10:57

      That was torture, the cupping. What about the needles? It didn’t hurt as bad?

      • Dolce Diana May 27, 2013 at 11:02

        No it didn’t…I don’t remember much about it so I think it didn’t hurt as much as the cupping…the cupping I so recall the pain and all! :p

        • Pinay Flying High May 27, 2013 at 11:19

          I think I’ll try the needles… The polka dots that I have on my back turned black now, good thing it isn’t the 2-pc season yet. Would’ve been weird. Lol.

          • Dolce Diana May 27, 2013 at 11:58

            No need for polka dot bikini hihi :p

  • Michael May 27, 2013 at 08:27


    Oh My! How are you? Are you currently in pain?

    I love a good deep muscle massage about once every 2 months. I would go more often but I can’t afford to go more than that. I like the feeling of the therapist going deep into the muscle to break up the pressure points. I have no experience with cupping.

    I will say that based on those photos I would never have it done to me. Is that marking normai? Please let us know how you are doing over the next few days! Seriously..

    • Pinay Flying High May 27, 2013 at 22:44

      I also love massage but like you, I can’t afford to go regularly. The last time I’ve had one was about 8 months ago but as the masseuse frankly told me, the stiffness of my back is beyond repair with just a normal massage.

      The cupping actually has a lot of health benefits, I am just a big sissy and couldn’t handle the pain. Yes, the marking is normal. It’s all violet now but I feel much better. I’m planning to go for another massage after the markings fade, hopefully it does. LOL

      • Michael May 28, 2013 at 06:47

        Good. I’m happy to hear that this marking is normal. I honestly don’t know much at all about cupping. Well, thanks to your post, I now know it puts huge circular marks on one’s back..LOL
        BTW, I want you to know that I spent 4 great days in your home country with my friend. After that we spent four days in Hong Kong, where her brother lives. We took a short day trip to Macau from Hong Kong.
        It was sweltering there as you mentioned to me before. I must mention that the people in the Philippines were incredibly friendly and helpful towards me as a tourist. We went to a small resort in Subic to go swimming as well. It was beautiful there. Unfortunately, we didn;t have time to go a place like Boracay, but it I had a wonderful time. I ate everything from chicken adobo, crispy pata to balut! Cheers. . .

        • Pinay Flying High May 28, 2013 at 20:54

          That is awesome! But 4 days only? Anyway, you were able to cover all of the “required” delicacy of the Philippines, how is balut? :p

          • Michael May 30, 2013 at 02:08

            Yes, Pinay. Only 4 days. I tried to squeeze seeing people in both Manila and Hong Kong into a short amount of total days (8). I loved that 15 1/2 hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong! Not really..Ugh
            Balut is just like eating a hard-boiled egg except about 3 or 4 nasty things which are not part of eating a hard-boiled egg. LOL My friend and her family were impressed that I did it and didn’t complain.:) I would much prefer to eat things like shrimp sinigang, and crispy pata to balut.. Avocado and Jack Fruit flavors of ice cream surprised me. OH.. I must say. During my short stay in the Philippines I ate the best fresh mango I have ever eaten in my life. I have eaten mango in Central America and it doesn’t compare to that in your home country! Have you ever eaten balut?

          • Pinay Flying High May 30, 2013 at 07:18

            I love balut! The boyfriend (who is Greek) ate it too when we were in the Philippines. I was disappointed that he did not gag or throw up, in fact he asked for one more. :-p

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    Welcome to my blog! My name is Noemi, a Filipina who caught the travel bug at an early age and has never been cured. I blog about travel, food and my extraordinary mundane life in London with the Greek Mister.

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