Back in 2004, Iron Man
actress Gwyneth Paltrow appeared on the red carpet with strange round marks on her back. The press went wild with speculation until she revealed their source to Oprah: a traditional Chinese therapy known as cupping. When Gwyneth called it “amazing” and “relaxing,” her fans (and nearly everyone else) rushed to try it.
Although the press made it sound like a New Age phenomenon, cupping has been around for literally thousands of years. It was even recommended by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, due to its numerous health benefits. Although the techniques have evolved, the original purpose and philosophy remain the same.
How is Cupping Performed
Many practitioners describe cupping as an inverse massage. Instead of applying pressure to your muscles, it uses suction to pull tissues and muscles upwards. The therapist places plastic, glass, or bamboo cops on your skin, which suctions out the air to create a vacuum and raise the underlying tissue partway into the cup. Although the back is the most common area treated, cupping also works well on other fleshy areas of the body.
What Does It Feel Like?
When the suction builds, you typically feel a tight sensation in and around the cupping area. Most people find it soothing and relaxing. Treatment does cause your skin to temporarily darken, especially if there is an injury under the cupping area. These marks can last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, but they aren’t usually painful. Once they disappear, you can resume treatment until your condition improves.
What Are the Different Cupping Methods?
Although there are different cupping methods, the most common ones are:
What are the Health Benefits?
- ‘Fixed’: The cups are placed on a selected area and then left in place.
- ‘Moving’: After applying oil or cream to your skin, the practitioner puts the cups over the treatment areas and slides them around.
Traditional Chinese medicine works on the principle of energy flow or qi. Illness results when energy blockages set in. Cupping is used to dissolve these blockages and eliminate toxins from the body, allowing the body to restore balance and heal itself.
Some of the conditions that can potentially be improved by cupping include:
- Pain: Cupping can reduce inflammation, increase blood circulation to the affected area, and gently work on the autonomic nervous system to lessen pain and improve your sense of well-being.
- Respiratory problems: Cupping is used to treat a wide range of respiratory illnesses, including the common cold, bronchitis, and lung and chest congestion. By drawing healing energy to the affected area and improving blood circulation, cupping induces your body to heal itself.
- Hypertension: The relaxing effects of cupping can help manage high blood pressure.
- Stiff muscles: Olympic athletes like swimmer Michael Phelps use cupping therapy to improve flexibility, eliminate stiffness, and reduce fatigue.
Cupping is also used as a relaxing form of cosmetic enhancement. By helping the lymphatic system remove toxins, it can be a non-invasive form of cellulite removal.
Is Cupping Safe for Everyone?
Cupping is not recommended for people who have skin ulcers, edema, or a condition that causes them to bleed easily. Pregnant women should avoid being cupped on their lower back or abdomen.
We provide cupping therapy for a wide range of health and cosmetic conditions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us today.