Cupping originated thousands of years ago back in ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures, and is one of the oldest forms of manual therapy. By placing a plastic cup onto the skin, the therapist creates a vacuum in the cup by using a suction pump, which draws the skin, muscle, and fascia up into the cup. The suction may facilitate healing by increasing blood flow with nutrient rich blood. The blood delivers oxygen to the tissues to encourage healing by removing congestion and discomfort. Initially the sensation may feel strange, but it will subsequently induce relaxation and a sense of calmness, making it ideal for those that are stressed.
Mobile cupping involves massage oil being applied to the area before applying the cup. The therapist then moves the cup along the skin to treat the desired area in a similar style as a massage. This negative pressure is the opposite to a deep tissue massage – a pulling versus a pushing effect. Alternatively, fixed cupping may be used to focus on tight areas. The cup is placed directly at the site of pain or dysfunction and left there for several minutes. Your skin may turn red as the blood vessels respond to the change in pressure. Any mild bruising or other marks usually go away within 10 days of the session.
Cupping therapy 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. Cupping is used in the treatment of many types of muscle tensions, including common ailments such as neck pain, shoulder pain, tight trapezius, lower back pain, spinal congestion, and plantar fasciitis. People also get it for relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.
THE CLAIMED BENEFITS OF CUPPING
- Relaxation: suction cups provide a negative pressure on the skin, muscles, and fascia. This is in contrast to the positive pressure of the deep tissue massage, and can be a very relaxing and soothing experience.
- Promotes blood circulation speeds up muscle recovery. The negative pressure from the suction allows new blood to flow into that area of tissue with several benefits –
+ Provides a feeling of relief from physical and emotional tensions
+ Begins the healing and regeneration process – the exchange of blood allows the removal of toxins and dead cells
+ Enhances circulation
+ Warms the skin, and softens tissues to regain elasticity
+ Reduces inflammation
+ Assist muscular pain and spasms
+ Release trigger points
+ Stretch facia and muscular tissue
+ Promotion of fluid movement
+ Loosen impacted never endings
DOES IT LEAVE DARK CIRCLES ON THE SKIN?
A good therapist will explain the potential effect of Cupping on the skin prior to treatment to get your consent. It is likely that there may be a resulting reddening of the skin directly under the cup, the colour of which depends on the health of the underlying tissue. Healthy tissues do not leave a dark circle.
Cupping is generally very safe to use and has no side effects. However, it is not recommended to have cupping if you have any of the following:
- Open wounds, dermatological problems or sunburn
- Recent trauma and inflammation
- Suffering from high fever
- If you are excessively famished or exhausted
- Pregnancy – care must be taken
- If you have a bleeding disorder or are on anti-coagulant therapy (blood thinners)