With his client on the massage table, Raul Irizarry spreads a thin layer of coconut-based oil along the woman’s back before pressing the first silicone cup into position. “It doesn’t hurt at all,” reassures April Cosimano, a professional bodybuilder and personal trainer taking weekly cup treatments. “It actually provides a lot of pain relief when he’s finished. I can feel the tight muscles releasing.”
“It looks like something you had done by a mad scientist,” says Irizarry, laughing and gently applying more cups of varying sizes along Cosimano’s defined muscles. Truly, her body begins to resemble an octopus’s tentacle. “It’s not pretty, but it does work.”
Those receiving cup therapy insist the practice of alternative healing provides more natural relief to overworked muscles, arthritis, chronic pain, sprains, injuries and various illnesses. The swimmer Michael Phelps is remembered for the identifying “cup kisses” on his upper body in the last Olympics. In theory, the application of suction draws blood to a specific area, increasing circulation to heal, to break up knots or congested areas of the body. There’s no bruising or discomfort. Others such as the British Cupping Society insist it treats anxiety and allergies, although medical findings on cupping in general are inconclusive. But Irizarry knows that cupping works, convinced after a personal session, adding it to his Better Bodies of SWFL, a successful massage practice in Naples. “I had no knowledge of it, so I had nothing to judge it by, other than how I felt,” he explains. “And I felt great afterwards. Very euphoric, a lot of pain relief … all the anxiety was gone. After that I was sold.” Irizarry undertook training, wishing to “up my game. I was content with my massaging practice, but I just wasn’t getting the result that I wanted for my clients. I wanted to see a better look on their faces,” he says, his expression a mix of passion and concern, further explaining, “I wanted to make sure that
I was attacking the problem and getting rid of it. Not just rubbing oil on it, hoping something good happens.”
Now settled into an open warehouse studio where he also offers mixed martial arts classes, Irizarry will incorporate cupping into a standard massage after explaining the treatment and what to expect. Both before and after applying the cups, he thoroughly massages the area to increase blood flow and muscle relief while releasing toxins in the muscles, which seems to enhance the results of both therapies, he says.
As with all forms of therapy, Irizarry encourages verification that the practitioner has been certified by a recognized establishment, board or school. Florida does not regulate or license the practice as it does massage. “If you don’t know what you’re doing,” he says, “you could make the problem worse. A certified practitioner will be more knowledgeable, and will know what cup to use and what’s going to be better for your particular circumstance.” But those who come to him can be assured the experience will be worthwhile. “I take pride in my work, and I just want to see people happy.”
Learn more about Raul Irizarry and Better Bodies of SWFL, LLC on Facebook.
THOSE RECEIVING CUP THERAPY INSIST THE PRACTICE PROVIDES MORE NATURAL RELIEF TO OVERWORKED MUSCLES.
Raul Irizzary (above) complements massage with cup therapy in his Naples practice, Better Bodies of SWFL.