“They do cupping in the new Karate Kid movie,” was the text I received from Jenn Potter, one of the massage therapists at the office. This was random and unexpected, but at the same time, cupping therapy has been popping up more often than ever before. The first time I heard anything in the media about it was when Gwyneth Paltrow showed up at a movie opening with red circles scattered around her back in 2004.
A method in which “cups” are applied to the back and occasionally other areas of the body with suction to pull “evil energy,” “toxins,” “blood stagnation,” and other “pernicious influences” to the surface of the skin. They are pulled to the skin to allow them to disperse and be released from the body.
Cups are applied with suction to pull stagnant blood including metabolic waste, lactic acid and pathogens from deeper levels of tissue. The blood which is pulled towards the surface allows an increased amount of fresh blood into the deeper tissues. This fresh blood brings with it everything the body needs to heal/repair tissue including: oxygen, proteins, antibodies, sugars and white blood cells. The “old” blood which is pulled to the surface is reabsorbed and broken down by the body within a few days.
What are the most common conditions treated by cupping?
- Pain – Especially, low back, neck and shoulders
- Colds and Flus
- Chest Congestion and Breathing Difficulties
- Digestive Disorders
What does it feel like?
Cupping feels like a mild to moderate pulling sensation on the muscles. Most people describe it as odd, but relaxing. When the cups are removed patients often describe a sensation of the muscles “letting go.”
Cupping therapy usually lasts around 20 minutes and can be done in conjunction with massage or acupuncture or as a stand alone treatment. In most clinics practitioners may use glass cups and a small fire source to burn all the oxygen out. They are quickly put on the patients back which creates a suction. As they cups sit there, the “old” blood is pulled to the skin leaving a perfectly circular bruise. This bruise lasts a few days to a week and is a positive sign. Newer styles of cups may be mad of plastic and use a hand pump to create the suction instead of fire. Both methods feel about the same and are equally effective.
So, next time you see someone with perfectly circular bruises on their back and neck you’ll know that they have just had a recent treatment. As always if you have any questions please feel free to email me.