From Michael Phelps to Gwenyth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker to Jennifer Aniston, cupping is the spa treatment that’s taken over the industry. But what really is cupping, other than some weird treatment that gives you some crazy looking spots afterwards? What does it do and does it actually work? If you’re curious about cupping, you can try Gua Sha with Cupping at Tranquil Moments Skin Studio in New Jersey for only $50 this Spa week, from October 15-21. Book your appointment now at spaweek.com. Here’s the run-down on the cupping craze:

What even is cupping?

What is cupping? Image of treatment.

Cupping is trendy now, but it’s definitely not a new treatment: it’s actually an ancient form of alternative medicine. During this treatment, cups are placed on the skin and create vacuums, which move the skin and increase blood flow.

There are two types of cupping: dry and wet. Dry cupping is what you’re probably most familiar with: it’s those suction cups that vacuum up the skin and leave you with some mild marks (or spots) on the treated area.

Wet cupping involves the same kind of suction as well as controlled bleeding to enhance the treatment. This type of cupping can be combined with acupuncture.

What can I expect during a cupping treatment?

Depending on your practitioner, the treatment may vary a bit. The cups will be made out of glass, bamboo, earthenware, or silicone. Your therapist will put a flammable substance (usually alcohol or paper) in one of the cups and set it on fire. As the fire goes out, the cup is placed upside down on your skin.

As the air cools, it creates that suction vacuum and starts working its magic. The cup will be left on your skin for a few minutes.

Communication is key during the treatment, so make sure you tell your therapist about any concerns you have. You’ll definitely discuss areas and concerns you want to target during the treatment, so you can expect that!

What are the benefits?

Cupping benefits: Michael Phelps. Photo by Getty Images.

Cupping can treat the physical manifestations of stress- so think sore muscles, chronic pain, and muscle spasms. Athletes (most famously, Michael Phelps) swear by this treatment after a particularly challenging workout. All the famous fans say that cupping gets out severe knots and treats regular pain and soreness.

Are there any side effects? Is it safe?

There aren’t very many side effects associated with cupping, but some people report feeling lightheaded or dizzy during or right after the treatment. The main side effect are those spots– bruising and marks are very common and expected.

Cupping is very safe for most people, but you’ll want to consult with your doctor before trying it. It’s not recommended for children, pregnant women, people with blood disorders, cancer patients, the elderly, or people menstruating.

Make sure you read reviews and go to a trusted, safe, and clean practitioner!

Does cupping really work?

Does cupping really work? Image of cupping treatment and fire

There haven’t been a lot of scientific studies on cupping, so there’s no official evidence of the benefits. But celebrities and regular people alike swear by this treatment as a natural pain reliever that soothes sore muscles. It does increase blood circulation and blood flow, which has been shown to relieve muscle tension.

Should I try it?

If you’re interested in cupping, we say: go for it! Since it’s a safe treatment, it can’t do any harm, and who knows?! It might just change your life. 

And this Spa Week from October 15-21, you can try cupping for only $50 in select locations. Search for listings in your area at spaweek.com.

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