In its simplest description, cupping involves the direct use of cups on the skin to create suction. But what does the suction do? And is cupping a viable source of therapy?
Cupping originated in China, where it was known to facilitate the flow of “qi”, or life force, throughout the body. Some health problems were thought to be due to poor energy flow or stagnant blood. Enter cupping therapy, which increases blood circulation in the areas where the cups are placed, thus alleviating those problems. Most often dark bruises will arise and a common misconception is that they are the result of damage to the body. Instead, the dark marks are the result of the blood having been moved from deep tissue to more superficial layers.
Materials used vary:
o Glass cups, which use fire to create the suction
o Plastic cups, which utilize an air pump to siphon out the air, thus eliminating the need for fire
o Silicone cups, which alone, when squeezed, create the negative pressure needed to stick to the skin and raise the muscle
Two types of cupping:
o After a few minutes of dry cupping, small incisions are made to the raised areas, which allow for the excretion of toxic blood and fluids when another cup in placed over the same area for a second round of cupping.
Benefits vary from the type of cupping, wet versus dry. Overall, the suction created by the negative pressure inside of the cup draws blood toward the affected area, which can
o Relieve muscle tension
o Improve circulation
Encourage blood flow
o Reduce inflammation
Attracts immune cells to the area in order to help aide the recovery process and decrease swelling
o Reduce pain
o Help with anxiety and depression
o Reduce the appearance of cellulite
Who should cup?
• Anyone suffering from chronic pain:
o Back pain
o Shoulder pain
o Other musculoskeletal pain
o Headaches or migraines
Tension builds up throughout our daily activities, whether it’s from manual labor at work or as a student hunching over a computer while writing an essay
o Post-workout recovery
o Although an ancient technique, cupping most recently blew up during the 2016 Olympics when swimmer Michael Phelps was seen with intense, purple circle bruises. He swore that cupping was the key to dealing with soreness and pain throughout the competition.
• Those suffering from