You may have recently seen athletes and actors showing up in public with mysterious circular bruises on their bodies. These marks are from cupping therapy. Cupping is a healing modality as well as a massage technique.
Though it has been practiced in China, Egypt, Greece, and Middle Eastern cultures for thousands of years, cupping has recently seen a large increase in interest.
What is Cupping?
Traditionally, a therapist lights a small flammable object like dried herbs or paper inside a glass, ceramic, metal, or bamboo cup and quickly places the mouth of the cup on the patient’s bare skin.
As the air inside the cup cools a vacuum is created which sucks the patient’s skin into the cup, decompressing the muscles and tissues.
A newer method has the healthcare practitioner using a hand pump to create suction with silicone or plastic cups. In some cupping methods, oil is applied to the skin to allow the practitioner to move the cups around on the body to enhance the massage effect. This oil supports suppleness and vitality of the skin and is said to be anti-aging.
‘Wet cupping’, while less common than ‘dry cupping’, is a technique by which the healthcare practitioner places a cup for a couple of minutes, takes it off, makes a small cut in the skin, and replaces the cup, drawing out a bit of blood. This is said to assist in heavy metal, bodily fluid, metabolic waste, and bacterial detoxification. This method is less commonly used.
For the first session, 3-5 cups are generally applied and left on the skin for up to 3 minutes. After the session, the therapist often applies an antibiotic ointment to help heal the circular bruises or small cuts made by wet cupping.
What Conditions is Cupping Used to Treat?
Cupping helps back and muscle pain by increasing circulation and relaxing the tissue. Stimulating blood flow and the body’s healing response, cupping draws blood from inside the tissues to the surface of the skin and can be a useful treatment for:
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
- High blood pressure
- Skin issues like hives or acne
- Improving gastrointestinal function
In our modern world, we often sit for long hours with a general compression or downward pressure on our bodies. Many people hold tightness and tension in their muscles. Cupping is a decompressive therapy, offering ‘negative pressure’, that creates more space and ease in the facia and tissues.
How Often Should I Receive Cupping Treatment?
There are many factors to consider when considering how often one should receive cupping. As a simple rule, allow the red bruises to heal before getting another session. This may take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
However, depending on what type of condition you are getting this therapy for, up to twice a week may be appropriate. Of course, talking with your professional healthcare practitioner about your treatment schedule is a fundamental part of the process.
Which Therapies are Aided by the Use of Cupping?
Cupping can be used in combination with other health and wellness therapies such as:
- Physical therapy
Sometimes, pain in the body is caused by tension. Cupping, with its decompressive effect, can help relax chronically tight muscles, pulling them away from their pattern of over activation, and release holding patterns in the fascia, working in tandem with manual healing techniques for better results.
Some people approach cupping as a way to enhance their wellness rather than treat a specific issue. This is the way in which famous ‘cupper’ Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer, Michael Phelps, uses cupping as part of his health care practice.
Circulation is a cornerstone of health. Poor circulation can lead to many different health challenges. Cupping can be a great part of staying healthy, functioning at peak performance, and avoiding sickness.
Stress plays a role in many health challenges. There is no underestimating the benefits of taking time to destress, care for yourself, and pursue wellness.
In our highly driven modern world, even a few moments spent with an attentive healthcare practitioner can make a world of difference. Getting in touch with our breath, and detoxifying our systems can yield many beneficial results. Cupping, as well as other modalities, offer us such an experience.
Experience The Benefits of Cupping For Yourself with Advanced Care
At Advanced Care Physical Therapy, our knowledgeable staff can help you decide what health strategies are best for you. In fact, our expert team of Physical Therapists brought cupping to the local area. Sign up for a new patient consultation and find out how cupping can help you.
To schedule an appointment, call us at 716-282-2888 or fill out our online form.