I remember the first time I saw the effect of ba guan (拔罐), cupping, I was horrified. Dark red circular bruises on a person's skin. I've since learned that ba guan, literally "pulling cups", are part of traditional Chinese medicine. A form of acupuncture, the idea is encourage blood flow. Cups are applied to the affected points in the body, and a partial vacuum is created to draw up underlying tissue and thus, the "bad blood" to the surface. There, the body then naturally disperses this bad blood. It's a kind of deep tissue massage that relieves blockages in the body.
Anyways, I've been feeling tightness around my shoulder blades for the past few weeks. Due to poor ergonomics at work, and not enough exercise, is my guess. Sunday Neil and I went to get traditional Chinese massage. Even after intense massage, I could still feel the knot deep in my shoulders. The masseuse asked if she had my permission to try cupping. Ow, ow, ow!
Afterwards, I had deep purple splotches all over my back. The masseuse pronounced my condition to be very serious. Apparently, the greater the blockage in one's body, the darker the bruise. Neil called me his yakuza girl. The color is supposed to fade in a few days. I'll see then whether I think it is effective or not.
I told Bonnie today I almost feel like an abused woman, keeping my hair down to cover my neck and shoulders. She pointed out that no one would find the circular marks unusual here, since many people go for cupping treatment. So I hope to make it to the pool tonight, to get the circulation going in my shoulders.