The Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Let’s talk about the benefits of cupping!
Cupping is a modality within the scope of traditional Chinese medicine that has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to exposure from athletes sporting the tell-tale circular marks.
What does cupping treat?
- muscle soreness and pain
- common cold
- poor digestion
- scar tissue
How does it work?
There are different types of cups that can be used (glass, plastic, silicone, ceramic), but all of them work on the same principle. With glass cups, a cotton swab is soaked in alcohol, ignited, swirled around in the cup for 1 or 2 seconds to suck the air out, then applied to the skin. The negative pressure brings the muscles up, creating space between the layers of tissue to encourage fresh, new blood flow to the area to speed recovery, reduce lactic acid buildup, encourage lymphatic drainage, sedate the nervous system, and oxygenate tired muscles. Cupping can affect up to four inches of tissues below the surface of the skin depending on the strength of suction used. Cups are most often applied to the back, but can be placed on the arms, legs, abdomen, or even the face!
Cupping can be used as a diagnostic tool in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine. The appearance of marks indicates how well qi and blood are moving in the area. If qi and blood are moving sufficiently, the marks will be lighter and fade quickly. If qi and blood are stagnant, as is the case with many chronic conditions, the marks will be darker and take longer to fade. Usually the more often you get cupping, the lighter your marks will become with each session.
What does it feel like?
Cupping feels like the suction you would experience if someone were to put a vacuum on your skin. It should not be painful but if the suction is too strong, it can be adjusted to suit your comfort level. If gliding cupping is used (where an oil is applied beforehand and the cups are moved along the muscles) it feels like a massage and is very relaxing. The marks left behind are not actually bruises and are not painful. Most people report a feeling of relief after cupping.
A co-worker once made a joke that I’m “always doing the dishes” because I spend so much time cleaning my cups between patients!
If you have any questions or want to experience the benefits of cupping for yourself, don't hesitate to contact me!
Quinn Rose, R.Ac.