When it comes to easing stress, insomnia and nagging, painful knots in the neck and shoulders, Chinese cupping therapy is one of the most effective therapies around.
But it can be hard to find practitioners, painful when the cups that are suctioned to the skin are removed and weird to walk around with circular bruises all over your back for days after.
That’s why I was intrigued by Tips & Toes new Cup Kiss full body massage, which attempts to incorporate the therapeutic benefits of cupping into a luxurious 90-minute treatment.
The difference is that rather than being suctioned in place (via heat created by an open flame, which is extinguished before the cups are applied), the cups are a softer silicone variety. In the Cup Kiss massage, the therapist moves a cup along the skin – hence no bruising.
The much-less dramatic suction creates a more gentle sensation along the muscles, fascia and skin. The therapist at Abu Dhabi’s Khaleej branch – near the junction of Khaleej Al Arabi and Mohamed Bin Khalifa/15th Street – began on my back and shoulders with a traditional massage using lavender-scented oil. When she moved on to the cup she first ran it lengthwise down my back, concentrating on either side of my spine, then out from the spine width-wise. Then she massaged the area again with her hands, working out any knots she came across.
The same procedure went for my legs and arms – front and back. Most of the time the very gentle suction felt great, even better than a pair of hands, but it did hurt in spots, particularly around my shoulders, parts of my thighs, around my hips and on the back of my arms – places where my fascia was presumably tightest.
After I had turned over she switched to coconut oil, first massaging my face and then gently using one of the cups on it, explaining that the gentle suction helped with puffiness. (It did).
While I can’t be sure that the massage actually did anything to reduce my cellulite or detoxify, as promised, the aches and pains I often feel in my legs and shoulders from a seated job had been reduced considerably, if only temporarily.
I also felt clear-headed, refreshed and entirely relaxed, going on to have an amazing night’s sleep.
Basically, the Tips & Toes Cup Kiss massage incorporates some of the less pesky elements of traditional Chinese cupping therapy, skipping most of the pain and bruising.
Another bonus of this treatment is that it’s a veritable chilling-out bargain: Dh320 for 90 minutes of pure relaxation, at least half the price of a treatment of similar-length in a hotel.
• The Cup Kiss massage is Dh320 for 90 minutes and is also offered as a Dh5 to Dh15-minute add-on to other treatments from Dh45. To find your nearest branch go to Tips N Toes or call 04 399 0550.
This review was done at the invitation of Tips N Toes.