Update: Hanna, owner of Sands of Siwa, has relocated to Dubai.
I have enjoyed massages aplenty – due in part to my dodgy back – but mostly just because I love them. I find back massages (well, any massage really) blissfully relaxing and rejuvenating. But ‘cupping therapy’? I admit that this is a new one for me. I’ve seen Justin Bieber, Kim K and Jen Anisten sporting the tell-tale red cup marks in the glossy celeb mags, but it wasn’t something I’d ever tried or knew much about.
I find holistic therapy and its potential to boost your wellbeing really intriguing. So when Hanna Byrne, owner of Sands of Siwa (holistic massage and beauty therapy) offered me a back massage with cupping therapy I thought, well, all the celebs and athletes do it, so why not? Cup away!
Hanna Byrne, Owner, Sands of Siwa
Hanna has just started her new business from her home on Fairfield Park, on the Herts/Beds border near Hitchin and Letchworth. Sands of Siwa is named after Hanna’s Egyptian heritage. Siwa is an Egyptian oasis renowned for its natural healing abilities, and reflects Hanna’s passion for natural and alternative therapies.
Yes this is a new business but don’t be fooled into thinking Hanna is new to the industry. She has over 12 years’ experience as a massage therapist to athletes, footballers and celebrities from all over the world. I felt confident that I would be in good hands. Literally.
The treatment room
The treatment room is at the top of Hanna’s townhouse.
It’s clean, tidy, and very peaceful, with plenty of lovely products on display. The bed is comfortable with soft, clean towels and a cushioned pad around the face hole – a small detail but so important when you’re laying on your front for quite a while.
Hanna offers massage tailored specifically to your needs. After an initial consultation, Hanna uses her in-depth knowledge of anatomy and muscles to identify, and work on, your problem areas.
We all hold a lot of tension in our backs. I’ve had a lot of specific issues with my back in the past few years, made worse after having our son. I have, at times, been in severe pain to the point where I couldn’t get up and walk around. Regular yoga and physio exercises have improved the situation but it remains a definite work-in-progress.
Hanna quickly identified my problem areas which I was really impressed with, as she was spot on. As she worked on those areas, with really good, firm pressure, she was talking me through how regular massage can really improve the health of your muscles and your overall wellbeing.
After the back massage, Hanna began the cupping therapy. Each cup was placed at various trigger points on my back. The cup uses vacuum suction to raise the skin inside the cup, which stimulates blood flow.
Very simply, cupping therapy – which originates from Ancient Egypt, Asia and the Middle East – draws toxins out of your blood into your lymph. Your body then gets rid of of these toxins through its natural lymphatic drainage system. Hanna tells me it is widely used to treat pain, digestive problems, and can even improve the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks. Er, yes please!
Now I’m not going to lie – when the cup is placed onto your skin, it feels a little uncomfortable. Not painful, but your skin feels very tight. It is completely bearable but the sensation does takes a little getting used to.
Once all 14 cups were on, Hanna asked me to relax (sort of!) for a short while, before she removed them. Having the cups taken off didn’t hurt at all.
A word of advice – don’t plan to have cupping therapy before an event where you need to expose your skin! Initially when the cups came off, I was left with large, red, rather unsightly lumps.
I found, though, that the raised skin subsided very quickly and all I was left with later that evening were red, circular patches, known as ‘cup kisses’.
The interesting thing about the cup kisses is that they are varying degrees of red. Some are much darker than others, which you can see in my photo. The colour reflects the toxins, inflammation and lactic acid build-up in your body. This allows your therapist to identify exactly where your problem areas are, which is quite fascinating.
After the treatment, there is no pain and you can carry on with life as usual. Hanna advised to drink plenty of water and said the marks should fade within a few days.
Apparently you do need a few treatments to feel the full benefits. Eventually, the cup marks will be less red, which means the therapy is working and you have less toxins in your body. My patches were very dark, so there’s quite a bit of work to be done.
Now that I’ve experienced my first cupping therapy, I’m intrigued to find out if it really can help with my back issues and improve my overall wellbeing. I think the Biebs might just be onto something. I’ll keep you posted!
A 90-minute full body detox massage, which includes cupping, costs £75 (price is correct at time of press).
Find out more
For more information on Hanna Byrne and Sands of Siwa, please visit her Facebook page.
This treatment was provided free of charge for the purposes of review. My reviews are always completely honest.