Today my fellow colleagues and I got to indulge in some celebrity red carpet health treatments by performing cupping therapy on each other. And although it might look a little intimidating with the purple blotches all over our bodies, I can assure you it feels wonderful! Most times I would prefer it over a massage.
** The below picture is Michael Phelps during the 2016 Olympics with evidence of cupping on his shoulders!**
What is cupping therapy?
Cupping has been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries! Glass, silicone or plastic cups are used in conjunction with heat or a pump to reduce the internal pressure creating a vacuum on the skin. The skin will be drawn up into the cup which causes local stagnation, and creates superficial inflammation to relieve deeper inflammation. The feeling is opposite of massage in which tissue is pressed upon, because in cupping the tissue and muscle is relieved by being pulled upwards.
Are there different types of cupping?
There are many types of cupping. The most common therapies performed are:
- Stagnant cupping: Many cups are used over an area and once each individual cup is suctioned onto the skin, it is left in place for a determined amount of time.
- Sliding cupping: This is my FAVOURITE! A single cup adheres to the skin and is moved all over the area of interest, creating a gentle stripping massage.
- Flash cupping: The cup is applied and taken off repeatedly and rapidly to increase tone, numbness and to create energy.
Who will benefit?
You may think this procedure is only for those of us wanting some relief from musculoskeletal aches and pains, but this therapy is also indicated in:
- H/A and dizziness
- Decreasing hypertonic (overactive) muscles
- Increasing hypotonic (underactive) muscles
- Epigastric pain, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion
- Acute sprains
- Common cold
- Menstrual pain
- and many more!!
Are there any conditions in which it shouldn’t be used?
Some contraindications for cupping are:
- skin ulcers
- high fever
- susceptible to a spontaneous bleed (On blood thinning medication or have been diagnosed with a coagulation disorder)
- Severely allergic skin
- Abdominal and sacral areas of pregnant women
How long does it take for the discolouration to disappear?
The purple/red spots will go away in a few days. The discolouration is due to broken blood vessels on the skin, and are noticeable for the noted time. Avoid this treatment directly before a situation where visible blemishes on your skin are not wanted.
How often do you need to have these treatments performed to receive the benefits?
Treatments are usually around 25 minutes long, and you will feel relief immediately! However, as with most therapies, the more consistently you are being treated, the greater the results will be. Once a week is probably the average timeline for treatment, but your unique situation will dictate how the practitioner will proceed.