Cupping Therapy

By Laken Zimmerman

You might have heard of cupping before.  Maybe you’ve seen celebrities or Olympic athletes sporting circle-shaped bruises on their back.

If you are new to this ideology, cupping is an ancient therapy in which a specialist puts cups that create a vacuum like effect on the skin in efforts to dispel stagnation.  The suction loosens the stiff muscles and improves circulation, ultimately ridding your body of toxins and waste. Although this alternative medicine looks painful, it has so many amazing benefits and I assure you the bruising looks way more painful than the treatment actually is.

I have had chronic pain in between my shoulders for years now.   No matter how much I stretched or thanked my husband for never saying no to, “Will you please rub my shoulder?” the pain persisted and I needed to try a different approach to eradicating the very unpleasant knot residing in my back.  A friend recommended I try a cupping massage to target the specific area.  I googled ‘cupping Joplin MO’ and voila, I found Bonnie.  Anxious and in pain, I set up my appointment.  We scheduled a 30 minute cupping massage and, little did I know, it would be the best decision ever.

Okay, let’s fast forward to me getting my back vacuumed.

Bonnie used a total of four cups on and around the problem area.  When the suction

What my cupping bruises looked like later that night. 

began, it felt like I was being pinched by a giant.  It was uncomfortable but was not unbearable.  After a few minutes it became super relaxing and I could feel the tension and stress literally being sucked out of my body.  The cups were left on my back for roughly seven minutes.  It was a sweet relief as the cups were released. Bonnie then began to perform an intense physical therapy massage and really started moving things around.  It was the best deep tissue massage I’ve ever had.  Bonnie was very in tune with my body’s ailment and focused specifically on the problem area.  It was the perfect balance of pleasure and pain.  The marks left by the cups were sensitive to touch but my back pain was relieved and I left the appointment feeling wonderful! I remembered to stay hydrated after the massage and went about my normal, pain-free day.  Meanwhile, my body was going through a major detox.  The surfaced toxins were being filtered and eliminated through my lymphatic system and that night I experienced nausea, vomiting and fatigue.  My body was cleansing and these were the side effects of an effective treatment.  Bonnie’s massage encouraged blood flow and provided circulation in my shoulder where the built up impurities once were.  The detox was exactly what my body needed, and in the days and weeks to come the bruising slowly diminished and I felt great!  My body was in alignment and I wasn’t living in constant pain.  For someone experiencing similar chronic back pain and ready to try something new, I highly recommend this treatment. Below is a sped-up clip of my experience to give an idea of what cupping looks like.

My experience was so profound that I wanted to learn more and share cupping therapy with the readers from a specialists’ point of view. I contacted Bonnie in regards to meeting for a short interview and here is her response.


Tell me about yourself and your path to alternative medicine.

Bonnie:  When I first started in school I was a pre-med student, and I then transitioned to nursing.  I loved all the anatomy in nursing, but the nursing itself really turned me off so I transitioned again to physical therapy, which I really enjoy.  Through these transitions, I am finding myself.  Going through medical school, degree changes and years of anatomy, it really benefited me when I went to massage therapy school because I had that previous education and a lot of the same classes.  That’s where I discovered that I really like helping people in a different way, not so much a medical way.  Let’s find something alternative.  I like the meeting in the middle of Eastern and Western medicine.  It doesn’t have to be allopathic.  It’s very interesting to merge the two, and that’s the type of therapist I am.  I’m kind of medical and kind of a natural.  I use essentials oils and homeopathic herbs for remedies.  I also work with patients post surgery, people suffering from a sports injury, even cancer patients.  My motto is: If you give your body what it needs, it will help heal itself.

What are 3 cupping benefits?

Breaking up fascia, increased circulation, and healing of the associated area.

What is the downside to cupping?

The thing about detoxing is no one wants to feel crummy, but in order for your body to heal you’ve got to get the toxins out.  Bruising is also a side effect although I don’t consider my style of cupping to be very extreme.  I don’t think it’s beneficial to traumatize the body in order for it to heal.

What do you think will be the next big change in your industry?

I would like to incorporate myself which is going to take me getting another degree in Acupuncture.  I think acupuncture is a good alternative to cupping and brings more awareness of Eastern medicine in the Joplin area.

Are there any other cupping specialist in town?

Yes, there are three chiropractors that I know of personally that specialize in cupping.

What insight would you give someone that is interested in cupping?

I’ve worked with patients that don’t benefit from only using massage, so I like to merge the two, cupping and massage.  Cupping gets past the superficial and helps me get to the root of the problem, if that’s what is needed.  When you do the same thing over and over, your body becomes used to it and it’s time to switch it up and exercise and stretch your body in different ways.  Also, every client is different so I don’t recommend cupping for everyone, and it is up to the therapist to decide on proper treatment.  I don’t believe everyone should do cupping just because they ordered cups on Amazon.  Cupping massage should be done by licensed therapist that is certified specifically in cupping.


If you are interested in scheduling a cupping treatment with Bonnie, please contact her at Executive Spa and Massage in Joplin and reference this article.  


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