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What Is Cupping & What Are The Benefits?

Relaxed Young Woman Receiving Cupping Treatment On Her Back In Spa
Cupping is a type of alternative medicine where your bodywork therapist will use special cups on your skin, creating a suction, that is designed to help with inflammation, relaxation and improving blood flow. Whereas hands-on massage techniques compress the body, thus stimulating the circulatory, lymphatic and other body systems to work more efficiently and flush out metabolic waste, cupping if more of a vacuum-like technique yielding the same results as hands on massage techniques, and in most cases better results.

It has been said by practitioners of cupping, that five minutes of cupping can be equal to 30 minutes of deep tissue massage. When applied by a properly trained bodywork therapist, cupping should not hurt. Most bodywork therapists currently will be using more gliding techniques as opposed to “parking” the cups.

Although the popularity of cupping has undoubtedly increased in recent years, especially in sports massage and bodywork practices, for its efficiency in deep tissue results.  It’s not a new practice. In fact, it’s been around for many centuries with the origin linked to Ancient Greece and famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong, who died in the year A.D. 0341. Even today, cupping is practiced throughout China, and many Taoists believe it helps the body’s yin and yang to restore balance.

Traditionally, the cups were heated with fire and applied to the skin. Although this method is still performed today in Chinese medicine, it is not allowed in most of the United States. More common current cupping techniques include dry cupping (suction-only) or wet cupping (suction and controlled medicinal bleeding). Oil is used to help the cups glide on the skin and the amount of suction depends on the goals of the client, and the training of the therapist.

Here’s how it works.

Your practitioner will use a specialized cup, probably silicone or plastic, but in ancient traditions they may have used earthenware, bamboo or glass, which is traditionally heated (by fire) or suctioned onto your skin. Fire cupping is NOT allowed in most of the United States, thought Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioners (TCM) may still be using them in their practices. Today, one of the most common methods is for rubber hand-held pumps to be used by the practitioner to create the suction. In New Jersey, only cupping tools which the therapist can hold in their hand, and are not attached to an electrical outlet, are allowed.

When the suction is created, the air inside the cup is removed, and the cup acts like a vacuum – which separates the skin from the muscle. It should not hurt the client who may  generally feel a bit of discomfort while the cupping takes place, however, once the cups are removed, you’ll instead feel relief.

Benefits of Cupping

There are many benefits to using cupping for a variety of ailments.

Lungs: Cupping can clear the lungs of congestion, whether from the common cold or as a result of allergies.

Detox: Cupping is excellent for the skin and circulatory system and can remove metabolic waste and improve blood flow.

Muscle Relief: Cupping can help to relieve muscle spasms, particularly in athletes.

Digestion: If you are experiencing a slowdown in metabolism, cupping could assist. It also helps to provide constipation relief, better digestion, and it can increase your appetite.

According to a report in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, cupping has also been found to help with herpes zoster, acne, and pain management. There’s evidence to support it assists with other ailments, such as cervical spondylosis and facial paralysis. The British Cupping Society also says cupping can treat blood disorders, rheumatic diseases, fertility and gynecological disorders, high blood pressure, migraines, anxiety, depression, allergies and varicose veins.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Although cupping is generally safe, you may experience a few minor side effects, such as mild discomfort during the procedure, bruise-like marks on the skin after the procedure, burns or skin infection – though the last one is rare, and burns only occur if your practitioner uses the older fire method, which is rarely allowed by law in the United States. Any mild bruise-like marks generally disappear within a week to ten days or so. They are not actually bruises, which result from trauma to the area. They are “petechiae” which is the opening of the capillaries on the skin level to release the metabolic waste through the skin.

Should You Get Cupping?

Cupping isn’t for everyone. If you’re a senior, your skin is much more fragile than it used to be, so it’s not recommended. Children under the age of 4 should also not receive this therapy, and older children should only receive the treatment for minimal time limits. You should also avoid cupping if you are pregnant, or menstruating, if you use a blood-thinning medication, have sunburn, an open wound, skin ulcers, or an internal organ disorder.

If you want to find out more, get in touch with our team today.

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