Cupping has been gaining a lot of prominence in the media over the last year or so and as result interest at the clinic has never been higher. But other than leaving some stylish patterns on your skin, a lot of patients aren’t entirely sure what the benefits are. So I thought I would throw together a little primer for the uninitiated. Keep in mind of course, that this is just a brief rundown of some of the more common uses of cupping, if you’re curious about something that I don’t talk about, don’t hesitate to drop me a line and ask.
Cupping is an ancient technique that involves placing jars on the skin, suctioning out the air and creating a vacuum. The underlying tissue is raised, or sucked, partway into the cup. The purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove “heat,” and pull toxins from your body’s tissue. Cupping is particularly good to help alleviate fascial adhesions causing muscle pain and to aid in recovery from hard exercise. You could think of cupping as the literal opposite to massage where instead of pressing down on the muscles, we’re lifting them up in order to separate the layers and bring in as much circulation as we can.
You usually feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup which will often feel good and relaxing for your aching muscles. Cups are generally left in place for 5-20 minutes, or we move them around in a pattern in order to address large areas of discomfort. Cupping causes the skin to temporarily turn red, blue or purple, especially if there is an energetic blockage under the cups. It’s common to get some mild bruising from the initial breaking of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. The skin discoloration may last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
I have had particularly good results for patients with the flu, colds, back pain, muscle pain, red itchy skin conditions, allergies, fevers, aches and pains. I’ll often do cupping for patients that don’t have any major complaints and just need something to help them relax and loosen up the muscles a bit, it’s a fantastic de-stressor.