Better health is on everyone’s list of goals and cupping is wonderful technique that can improve your health and provide numerous benefits.
One way to think about cupping is that it is the inverse of massage. Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull skin, tissue and muscles upward. I often combine cupping and other massage modalities into one treatment, but it could also be used alone.
Cupping was developed thousands of years ago and though the techniques have modernized, the original philosophy remains the same.
Cupping involves placing silicone or plastic cups on the skin and creating a vacuum by suctioning out the air. The underlying tissue is raised partway into the cup. The purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove “heat” and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Often, this sensation is relaxing and soothing. Depending on your comfort and the assessment of the problem, cups may be moved around or left in place. They may remain on your body briefly or for longer amounts of time. Each treatment is unique to you on that particular day. One very common area to be cupped is the back, although cups work well on other areas, too — particularly on fleshy sections of the body.
Cupping causes the skin to temporarily turn red, blue or purple, especially if there is an injury or energetic blockage under the area that was cupped. The skin discoloration can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, but isn’t painful. Once the marks have cleared, the procedure can be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.
There are a number of methods of cupping — the two most common here in the U.S. are “fixed cupping” and “moving cupping.”
The cups are placed on a selected area of your body and then left in place without being moved.
As the name implies, in this method massage oil or cream is applied on your skin and the cups are placed over the areas to be treated and then moded around that region of the body — most commonly the back. The cups slide easily because the cream has lubricated your body.
Here are three reasons why cupping just might go mainstream this year:
1. Celebrity cupping enthusiasts are growing in numbers.
It was about 10 years ago when cupping first appeared in the tabloids. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow showed up on the red carpet with obvious round cupping marks on her back. She received a lot of press and later explained to Oprah, “It feels amazing and it’s very relaxing.”
2. Athletes use cupping as a secret weapon.
Michael Phelps created a world-wide interest in cupping during the 2016 Olympics in Rio by winning an unprecedented number of gold medals while displaying obvious cupping marks. But cupping is not just for movie stars and athletes … cupping is highly beneficial for everyone.
3. Cupping provides relief for many health conditions.
Cupping has numerous benefits — it can help remove toxins from the body and stimulate the flow of fresh blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area and throughout the body, releasing tightened muscles and speeding recovery.
It should be noted that cupping is not be used on patients who bleed easily and/or cannot stop bleeding, have skin ulcers, or edema. It is unwise to cup over large blood vessels as well. Pregnant women should be cupped with extreme caution and never on their abdomen or lower back.
To be cautious I generally practice a less intense treatment the first time, and then see how the patient reacts before implementing longer amounts of time and more suction.
Will this year be the year that you try cupping?