While most of the United States was first introduced to cupping at the Olympics, via Michael Phelps back, cupping is a traditional Chinese therapy used to treat illnesses and imbalances for over 2,000 years. It can be found in many cultures all around the world and used in many different way. Originally, the “cups” were made from animal horns, and practitioners used their own lips to create suction. Today’s cupping techniques are performed primarily with a vacuum pump or fire. where the practitioner creates suction in a cup, applies the cup to the client’s body. In response to the suction, blood rushes to the area that is “sucked” up in the cup.
Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.
Cupping’s most potent impact by far is its ability to optimize circulation. As it increases blood flow to the applied areas of your body, it provides a number of important health improvements, from cell growth and organ function to the appearance of your skin.
During a cupping session, the cup placed on the client’s skin creating a vacuum that draws up the skin tissue. Once the skin seals the air in the vessel, the skin begins to contract. Usually, a number of suctioning cups are applied to the patient’s skin for several minutes and then removed.
While cupping is not considered painful, it may leave round red/brown/purple marks on the skin for a length of time. The time/color varies on each person and their hydration, nutrition, immune system, and sleep, which are a few of the contributing factors.
One way to think of cupping is to compare it to a massage, but in reverse: the cups pull your muscles up, rather than pushing them down. It is effective at stretching tight fascia and muscles. The cupping process draws blood from your vessels and into your tissue. Your body thinks it’s been injured, so it jump starts the repair/ inflammatory response, mobilizing antibodies to the area to try to heal it. This may be why cupping is touted to treat a lot of pain-based conditions. Along with boosting athletic recovery, it’s also been used to manage things like lower back pain, fibromyalgia and other ailments.
Red blood circulates oxygen throughout your body, and the more efficiently that happens, the better you’ll look and feel. By bringing fresh blood to the surface of your skin, cupping can help manage acute and chronic pain, manage swelling, reduce migraines, diminish digestive problems, and assist your body by bringing toxins near to your lymphatic system which helps your body heal better/faster.
Here at UWAT, we practice both static (round marks) and active cupping. Active cupping uses the cups in a integrative fashion to help speed recovery and flush an area. While some marks may appear from active cupping, they are a lot more controllable. Talk to your therapist if you are concerned about the marks, and still want the benefits of cupping.
Professional Insight: Fire Cupping vs Vacuum Cupping
Both are great! At UWAT, we choose to use vacuum cupping exclusively for a couple of reasons. Primarily because it is the simplest method to adjust the vacuum pressure which allows us to create a completely customized experience for our clients. Second, we learned a long time ago, we learned what happens when we play with fire…