SPECIAL REPORT: Cupping therapy catching on in Lincoln

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Cupping is a form of therapy that's been around for years, but it's starting to catch on in Lincoln. Many people are reluctant to try it because it looks painful or even scary, but patients say taking the chance is worth the results.

"Sometimes I'm in pain the entire time I'm with a customer, and I just have to smile and work through it," Becky Alvis of Stromsburg said.

Alvis has her own hair salon and has been styling hair for 12 years. Her job has taken a toll on her body.

"Tension through my neck and shoulders. My arms are always raised, blow drying, cutting, shampooing, leaning over people," Alvis said.

For years, Alvis would get deep tissue massages to get through the pain, but it never really went away.

"There was always just that deep down tension that we just weren't hitting," Alvis said.

That all changed when she tried cupping. Every month, Alvis heads to Morgan Chiropractic and Acupuncture in Lincoln.

"There are days that I'm just like 'I can't wait, I can't wait to get here,'" Alvis said. "I'll feel so much better when I'm done."

Cupping is a form of therapy where several cups are suctioned to a part of the body, often times the back.

"It provides negative pressure, which creates a suction and separates, lifts and separates the tissue," Licensed Massage Therapist Amber Scheer said. "It's allowing lymph and blood flow fresh supplies to get to these areas that haven't had good circulation."

Cupping can serve much like a deep tissue massage, but with less pain. It releases tension and toxins from the body and helps with circulation and range of motion. It's not a new treatment, but one that can look a little painful.

"It just feels a little tight and then when [the cups are] released, the pressure's released and then you feel lighter in a way," Alvis said.

However, the bruise-like marks the cups sometimes leave on the body can also scare people away. Depending on the person, the marks can persist from a day to a week.

"The marks are not bruising, the marks are the stagnation, the toxins that have been deep in those muscles," Scheer said. "We're pulling it out to the surface, which comes as the form of that discoloration."

Several of Scheer's patients have reaped the benefits of the unique therapy, from stopping pain pills to sleeping better.

"I've been very impressed with what it's able to do, and the results I'm seeing and the help I'm giving," Scheer said.

For Alvis, it's a treatment that's made all the difference.

"I'm happier and healthier and I'm not in pain," Alvis said. "It's changed my day-to-day."

Scheer said pairing cupping with acupuncture or chiropractic therapy can enhance the benefits. A session can cost from $45-50 dollars.

Other places in Lincoln also offer cupping services, including Lotus Moon Acupuncture, Juniper Massage and Spa and the UNL Massage Therapy Center.