Cupping therapy has been practised across the world for centuries; from ancient Egypt and Europe to South America and Asia. For over 2000 years it has been an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
There has been a rise in its popularity in part owing to the exposure from athletes such as Michael Phelps and Alex Naddour during the Olympics of 2016. Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga have also been photographed sporting cupping marks.
Cupping as a part of beauty care has also increased in the past couple of years. The claim that it can help reduce cellulite and wrinkles has also piqued new interest in this ancient therapy.
There are two types of cupping; wet and dry. Wet cupping involves cups being placed on the body for a few minutes then being removed. Tiny cuts are made on the skin where the cups were placed. The cups are replaced on the sites to suck up the blood that is released.
Dry cupping involves no cuts being made. The cups are either moved along the body or left stationary. This blog focuses solely on dry cupping for therapeutic purposes.
Unlike most forms of massage where pressure is applied to push down on the tissues and muscles; cupping therapy uses what’s referred to as negative pressure. The suction from the cups draws up tissues instead of pushing down on them. This encourages tissues to release thereby loosening areas of restriction. Fresh blood flow is increased to these areas improving circulation and enhances the flow of Qi (in its most basic translation, life force energy) in the body.
The sedating effect of cupping on the nervous system causes a parasympathetic response. This aids the body in rest, digestion, relaxation and recovery.
• Promotes healing. As blood flow is improved at the site of cupping this helps the natural healing process.
• Relieves tight and tense muscles especially in the back, neck and shoulders.
• Good for digestive issues such as constipation and IBS.
• Great for easing coughs and colds; clearing mucous and congestion.
• Pain relief from stiff joints and aching muscles.
There are different types of cups used in cupping therapy. They are available in glass, bamboo, plastic and silicone.
At Wellbeing Treatment glass cups are used. These are preferred as they allow for stronger suction if required and the tissues remain visible during the treatment. It’s good to see what’s going on under the cups!
What to expect during a treatment
There are multiple methods of cupping. I will outline how a typical cupping treatment is carried out at Wellbeing Treatment.
Prior to the cups being placed an oil massage is performed. A vacuum is then created in the cup by placing a flame (ignited cotton wool soaked in surgical spirit) in it. The longer the flame is kept in the cup the stronger the vacuum is. This will result in greater suction of the tissues when the cup is placed on the body. The amount of suction required varies with each individual and what they find comfortable.
A combination of techniques is used with the cups. They can be moved along the body in a gliding motion for a deep massage. Flash cupping is a technique where the cups are placed and removed quickly along the area to be worked on. This is great for improving circulation along the area being worked on. Cups are then left stationary for up to a maximum of 20 minutes. This can be a nice, relaxing experience. Some clients even fall asleep during this part.
The cups are then removed followed by a relaxing head and neck massage to top off the treatment.
What are those marks all about?
You may have seen pictures of cupping marks akin to angry love bites from an octopus. Please don’t be put off by these. Not all treatments result in marks so severe. Some redness is standard from the suction of the cups. These marks usually fade within a few days and are never permanent and do not hurt.
There are times when the marks will be more pronounced especially when deeper suction has been applied. At times the marks will be a darker purple colour. This is indicative of congestion in that area. When you have aches and pains in particular areas they tend to show up with darker marks.
The marks are a way of finding out what is going on in your body. They are not to be feared. In fact many clients wear them with pride. It shows that you are serious about self care.
Give it a try
Cupping Therapy is a fantastic treatment. It can look painful but it certainly does not have to be. It is brilliant for relieving stiffness and tension in the body. Give it a try, book yourself in for some ancient healing therapy and feel the benefits.