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Decompression Therapy would “help with circulation improvement and muscle discomfort," and that it was similar to cupping therapy but without the discomfort or octopus-style markings after. (Image: Getty Images).

Decompression Therapy is like cupping, but a million times better

I have a bit of an obsession, if you will, with trying to make my body feel as good as possible at all times. I certainly haven’t always been this way. I mean, let’s be honest, college happened. I wasn’t overtly unhealthy, I was a college athlete after all, but I wasn’t exactly hyper-aware of how the things that I was doing impacted how I felt.

Like most college athletes, I walked away from my time doing the sports feeling like a burnt Rice Krispie treat. My body would snap, crackle, and pop all day long. I walked into my first real try at a yoga class a few months after I graduated and suddenly was hit by the revelation that, if I put just a little bit of effort in, I could make my body feel way better than its current state.

Since this revelation I’ve committed myself to trying all of the weird things under the sun; questionable pills from the internet, juice cleanses, energy healing over FaceTime, and other things that have either wrecked my bowels or rocked my world. Sometimes both. The human body is a crazy thing, man.

I was recently invited to the new Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Redmond to test out one of their new services, Decompression Therapy. I was told that Decompression Therapy would “help with circulation improvement and muscle discomfort," and that it was similar to cupping therapy but without the discomfort or octopus-style markings after.

I’ve done a LOT of cupping in my time. A few years ago I was rear-ended on the way to work (a great way to start the day!!) and was left with pretty gnarly whiplash throughout my neck. This injury made me feel like an infant; I couldn’t hold my head up for more than a few hours before I needed to take a break. My doctor prescribed, among other things, therapeutic massage and cupping to help ease some of my pain, and to eventually give me back the ability to hold my head up for a full day.

Let me tell you, nothing is more embarrassing than emailing your boss; “Yo, I can’t hold my head up anymore. I’m going to lie down for a little bit.”

It was humbling.

You’ve probably heard of cupping. During the last few Olympics it was a really trendy thing amongst all the athletes and, as such got a lot of media coverage. I like to think of cupping as being the opposite of massage. Rather than applying pressure to a specific part of the body, cupping uses suction to pull tension out of the body. You experience this pulling through your connective tissue and lactic acid, among other things.

When you see somebody with really dark cupping marks (you know, when they look like they lost a fight with an octopus), that’s usually a sign that that particular part of the body had a lot of lactic acid, soreness, or tension. The cups just kinda chill out, try to pull the tension out of the body through suction, and then leave you with a really hardcore battle mark that lasts for a few days. I found it to be really healing for my body and noticed the results after my first session, but I also dreaded going back.

If you’ve never had any sort of intense body work or therapeutic massage done, I absolutely wouldn’t recommend jumping right into cupping. Even with a very gentle practitioner, which I had, cupping can be INTENSE. It’s great for targeting a specific part of the body, but the cups stay on for a while and pull the surrounding skin very taught, which made me feel incredibly anxious. Once you get the cups on they have to sit for at least a few minutes, which leaves you feeling like you are slowly being murdered by either large leeches or an octopus in the name of health, and you just have to deal with it.

Decompression Therapy, on the other hand, targets the entire body. Hand and Stone Massage told me that, while it was similar to cupping, Decompression Therapy wouldn’t leave any marks. SIGN. ME. UP.

The experience of getting Decompression Therapy is very similar to that of getting a full body massage, and was MUCH more relaxing than cupping. I chatted with my therapist a little bit about how my body was feeling before the session began, and he agreed to give a little TLC to the places where I wasn’t feeling particularly sprightly, like my lower back and shoulders.

Rather than leaving cups on my body to slowly suck out my soul, the cups were constantly in motion as part of the massage. There was a slight “pop” sound each time the motion of the cup ended, but other than that I didn’t notice the cups all that much. The cups vary in size depending on which muscle group or part of the body that they were working on, but if my therapist (hi, Daniel!) hadn’t told me that fact I honestly would never have noticed.

There is no way in HELL I would be able to fall asleep during cupping, but I found myself almost snoozin’ during my Decompression Therapy. It was like getting a very, very extra massage. And as a bonus, I was able to go out in public immediately after without people making jokes about me being intimate with an octopus. Score.

The day following my Decompression Therapy my body was noticeably more relaxed. My back-pain from chronically being hunched over my phone was virtually nonexistent, and I proudly held my head up for the entire day without needing to take a single break.

You can learn more about Hand and Stone massage services here. Prices for massage services begin at $64 depending on your therapist and your service of choice.