Cupping therapy has increased in popularity in the last several years, but many people still don’t know what cupping is or how it can help them. We will answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding cupping.
Is cupping something new?
Cupping has been used as a form of healing for thousands of years. Cupping can be traced back to ancient Chinese and Egyptian medicine. Hippocrates, who has been called ‘the father of modern medicine,’ believed cupping therapy could treat a variety of ailments. Celebrities brought attention to cupping within more recent years when they would arrive at events with their cupping marks visible. The circular markings sparked curiosity that brought new awareness to the healing power of cupping therapy.
What is cupping?
Cupping therapy involves using a cup shaped object that creates a suction when placed on the skin. Originally cupping was often performed by using a heat source to heat the air inside the cup prior to placing it on the skin. As the air inside the cup cooled, the skin would be lifted up into the cup. Modern cupping is often performed using a suction cup where the air is either squeezed out of the cup prior to placing it or through the use of a suction ‘gun’ that removes the air inside the cup and allows the skin to be lifted into the cup. This is the method used by our practitioners.
There are different forms of cupping therapy that are utilized today:
- Dry cupping – The cup is placed on the skin and left in a stationary position.
- Cupping Massage – Oil is applied to the skin prior to placing the cups and the cups are then moved along the skin of the area being treated.
- Flash Cupping – Where the cup is repeatedly placed and quickly released.
- Wet Cupping – There are tiny cuts made to the skin prior to placing the cups to allow for a blood release. (This is not performed or recommended by our practitioners)
How does cupping work to heal the body?
Cupping works to draw blood flow to the area being treated. Increased circulation assists the body in healing. It also lifts the tissue and assists in breaking down adhesions in the tissue from overuse injuries, scars, and postural restrictions. This frees up movement and reduces pain.
Are the cupping marks bruises?
Cupping draws blood out of the capillaries under the skin resulting in a bruise like mark. The difference between a cupping mark and a regular bruise is that a bruise is usually caused by a blunt force trauma to the tissue whereas a cupping mark is caused by a lifting or decompressive force. Whereas there is no blunt force trauma, you don’t get the tenderness with a cupping mark that you would with a typical bruise.
How long do the cupping marks last?
The marks can last for approximately 4-10 days depending on the person. They will fade gradually. The marks may change colour to green and yellow as they fade. Some people only get slight marks and others may have more intense markings that last longer.
What are the risks involved with cupping?
Cupping is safe for most people but there are certain risk factors and conditions that it is not recommended for:
- If you have any bleeding disorders or are on any medications that cause an increased risk of bleeding (blood thinners).
- Any systemic infection
- History of Stroke or Deep Vein Thrombosis
- History of Seizures or Epilepsy
- Open skin or skin irritation in the treatment area caused by a variety of conditions such as injury, burns, acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.
- If pregnant cupping is not indicated in the area of the abdomen or lower back
What are some conditions that cupping is recommended for?
- Rotator Cuff Impingement
- Carpal Tunnel
- ITB Syndrome
- Improve the appearance of scars
- Reduce movement restrictions due to scar tissue
- Improve postural imbalances
- Relief from pain in soft tissue and joints from a variety of causes
How is cupping incorporated into your massage treatment?
Your massage therapist can make a treatment plan based on your comfort level and needs. You could have a full cupping treatment where cups are used during the majority of the treatment. They can be left stationary or can be moved over the skin. This will depend on what you are comfortable with and what is indicated for the condition being treated. You and your massage therapist may find its only necessary to use a few cups in a specific area. As with any treatment, the plan will be discussed with you prior to the treatment and designed to meet your needs.
Cupping therapy is a great modality to further assist you in your healing journey. Book an appointment with one of our massage therapists to experience the benefits of cupping massage yourself.