What is Cupping Therapy?
If you watched the Rio 2016 Olympics, you may have noticed some of the athletes – including Michael Phelps – sporting some interesting bruising patterns. This circular red/purple mark is the result of a technique called cupping. Today we’ll discuss what cupping is, where it originated, and how it works.
Cupping is a therapeutic technique that has recently gained large popularity in the media. This is mostly due to various olympic athletes performing events with round bruises covering their bodies. Although this technique is just now becoming widely seen and used, it has roots dating back to traditional Chinese medicine.
Cupping therapy utilizes a suction device as well as plastic cups in order to create a vacuum effect on a select point on a patient’s body. Massage cream is also utilized during cupping to mobilize the cups over a broader area. This allows our therapists to cause desired effects over a larger body part.
The benefits of cupping are much like those of massage. These benefits can include:
- Decreased pain Promotion of healing
- Improved bloodflow
- Improved range of motion
- Break up of adhesions/scar tissue
Where Does Cupping come from?
Although the true origin of cupping remains unknown, the first recorded description of the technique was in Eygpt in 1550 B.C.E. as a method of removing foreign matter from the body. Cupping has been used by most cultures at one time or another and was even used by American physicians up until the late 1800’s. After spending some time in the shadows, cupping has re-entered the spotlight in Western medicine and is popping up in physiotherapy, massage and chiropractic clinics throughout the world.
Benefits of Cupping Over Traditional Massage Techniques
Traditional massage techniques largely include compression of a patient’s muscles as well as connective tissue. Cupping therapy techniques instead include decompression of a patient’s muscles as well as connective tissue. This decompression effect can be more beneficial as it allows more separation between muscles and the surrounding connective tissues.
Additionally, the negative pressure created from cupping helps improve blood flow and the release of hormones (kinin, histamine, prostaglandins, serotonin, etc.), which helps to stimulate the healing process. The negative pressure also helps to destroy latent (non-functional) blood and lymphatic capillaries, thereby leading to the regeneration of new capillary beds. This results in an increased supply of oxygen/nutrients to the area and helps with toxin removal.
Will Cupping Bruise Me?
Although light bruising can sometimes be a non-harmful side effect of cupping, it is not a typical reaction. Any post treatment bruising/redness is typically resolved within 24 to 48 hours.
Wet cupping (AL-HIJAMA)
Wet cupping creates a mild suction by leaving a cup in place for about 3 minutes. The therapist then removes the cup and uses a small scalpel to make light, tiny cuts on your skin. Next, he or she does a second suction to draw out a small quantity of blood.
You might get 3-5 cups in your first session. Or you might just try one to see how it goes. It’s rare to get more than 5-7 cups,
Dry Cupping Therapy
The form of cupping most commonly used by healthcare practitioners is called dry cupping. A glass, plastic, or silicone cup is placed on the skin where the air within the cup is removed causing a vacuum effect. Dry cupping is a safe and beneficial technique. In clinical studies, patients with neck and shoulder pain experienced a 61% decrease in pain after receiving dry cupping therapy!
Magnetic Cupping Therapy
Magnetic Cupping. A natural alternative to acupuncture, using magnetic cups over the acupuncture points combines the benefits of acupuncture and cupping along with the healing powers of magnets, which have proven to stimulate electrical currents throughout the body.