What is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create negative pressure through localized suction. This negative pressure decompresses and gently lifts the skin and underlying tissues to stimulate blood circulation and promote pain relief for injuries such as strains, sprains and inflammation.
What does Cupping actually do?
The intent of Cupping is to increase blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This is done to relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue.
Is Cupping a new "fad"?
Cupping has become extremely popular in North America over the last several years, but it’s definitely not a new "fad" - it dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C. Although it has been used for thousands of years, it is important to note that there is not a lot of current scientific research to back up the use of Cupping as a Therapy.
What are the different types of cups?
Cupping was originally performed using animal horns. Later, the “cups” were made from bamboo and then ceramic or glass and the suction was primarily created through the use of heat. Glass cups are heated on the inside with fire before being applied to the skin. As they cool, the cups draw the skin inside.
Today, cupping is often performed using either glass cups (used primarily for fire and wet cupping), silicone cups (used primarily for massage cupping) or polycarbonate plastic cups (used primarily for massage and wet cupping).
What is "wet" cupping?
In some Arabic cultures, Cupping is known as Hijama and is a popular practice especially in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Europe. In the Western world it is commonly referred to as Wet Cupping or sometimes referred to as Bleeding Cupping. Derived from the Arabic word “Hajm” which means “sucking”, Wet Cupping involves making small, shallow incisions in the skin surface and then creating suction / negative pressure with the cups to draw out stagnated blood and toxins from the body.
What conditions can cupping help?
Cupping has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions and is particularly effective at easing painful knots in your shoulders, pain in your back and discomfort in your legs. Cupping is known to alleviate the pain associated with conditions that create muscle aches and pains such as Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis, Sciatica, Plantar Fasciitis and Tennis Elbow. The cups can also be applied to major acupressure points, the practice is possibly effective at treating digestive issues, skin issues, and other conditions commonly treated with acupressure.
Does Cupping hurt?
It definitely should not hurt! Cupping should be enjoyable and relaxing and while you may feel some slight discomfort when the cups are first applied, it should not be painful. A slight tugging sensation is good, but if you are feeling pain, the suction is likely too aggressive. This has no therapeutic value and the cups should be removed and re-applied with less suction.
So what's with the marks?
There is a great deal of controversy over what cupping marks are…or are not. The marks are caused by the suction of the cup and the increased amount of blood flow in the area. Cupping marks are typically not painful and if there is any discomfort it is minimal and goes away quickly. These are completely normal, quite common, and generally will not be sensitive to the touch. Depending on the individual and the area being treated, the marks may disappear in a few minutes or may take a few days to completely disappear. We recommend that you consult with a medical professional if you have concerns about the marks.
The goal of Cupping is to mobilize blood flow to promote healing NOT to leave marks.