Back in circulation: Vietnamese Cupping Massage

Many moons ago, I was invited by a colleague in Malaysia to try a ‘cupping’ massage. I politely declined when I saw the condition of her back – she’d had the recommended treatment just the day before – purple, bruise-like circles had made a rather violent pattern on her skin. When I came to Vietnam, I noticed that traditional masseurs applied the same technique, and so my reservations about experiencing cupping remained resolute – it didn’t seem like my cup of tea. That was until a recent visit to La Residence, when I decided to put my issues aside and try out the traditional massage; knowing that their expert masseuses would certainly not put my body under any serious duress.

What a wonderful choice. Normally I exit a massage feeling relaxed, but upon completion of this treatment, the feeling was one of invigorated calm. I know that reads exactly like a contradiction – invigorated calm – but it sums up my resulting disposition perfectly. My mind and body felt at ease but I wasn’t lethargic; in fact I ended up having a very productive work session post-massage.

Vietnamese cupping massage is based on the ancient Chinese alternative medicine of creating local suction points on the skin. It is believed that this method helps improve circulation of the blood around the body and balance one’s Qi (life force). A heated glass or non-inflammatory cup (made from silicone) is placed on the back to create a partial vacuum. It is then moved across the back – up and down – to continue the promotion of blood circulation.

At La Residence the cupping is carefully conducted so that the actual cups are not abrasively hot. The therapists are very thorough in checking that you are comfortable throughout the process. To complement the cupping, they also employ traditional massage, focusing on special pressure point techniques. The treatment is either 60 or 90 minutes (1.100.000VND/1.450.000VND); I would highly recommend the 90 minute version. With few resorts offering this same massage treatment throughout Vietnam, you should seriously consider trying it at La Residence – you may not have the opportunity elsewhere (in a controlled, safe environment) and it really is the most subliminal of massage experiences.

Amy Morison