What is Cupping?
Cupping is commonly used in traditional Chinese Medicine and Massage to alleviate pain and treat chronic and acute conditions. Cupping uses heat and a glass cup. The practitioner temporarily lights a flame inside the glass cup to remove the oxygen from it, quickly removes the flame from the cup and gently places the cup on the surface of the skin, which causes a suction effect. The cups are placed on specific areas of the body (usually the back, shoulders, arms and legs) and can be left in place (stationary) or moved across the skin (gliding). The purpose of cupping is to draw up congestion and stagnation from deeper in the body and release locked tension. This allows qi energy to move freely through the meridians, alleviating pain.
How Cupping can Help
Cupping is particularly useful in helping to alleviate and reduce:
- Chronic pain
- Respiratory and/or sinus congestion
- Scar tissue from previous injury or surgery
- Systemic inflammation
- Stagnation of fluids (blood and lymph)
- Acute muscle tension
Does it Hurt?
Cupping creates a unique sensation of suction on the surface of the skin that is unlike anything you may have felt before. It may initially feel like a tight, intense, pulling sensation. As the cups remain on the body, this tight sensation usually softens and becomes very enjoyable and relaxing.
Will I be bruised afterwards? How long will the marks last?
Cupping can cause discoloration on the surface of the skin. It is a common misconception that these marks are actual bruises. Bruises are a result of broken capillaries due to impact and are often deep and sensitive to the touch.
Cupping marks can sometimes feel slightly rough or raw within the first 24 hours of treatment, and do not tend to feel like bruises. The discoloration caused by cupping is a result of congestion and toxins being pulled up from deep muscle and tissue layers, and releasing through the skin. The marks left behind usually fade and disappear within 2-5 days.
- Keep the area covered and stay warm: Cupping and Gua Sha both cause the body to physically release heat. It is important to keep the treated areas covered, away from the sun and drafts, and to keep your whole body warm for up to 48 hours following the session.
- Hydrate well: It is always important to keep your body hydrated for proper muscle and structural functioning. This is especially important before and after bodywork sessions and can help reduce any soreness felt from the treatment.
- Avoid extreme hot or cold exercise: Your body will be seeking balance and harmony in several ways following these treatments. It is helpful to allow your body to adjust gently, at its own pace. It is best to avoid strenuous exercise, steam rooms, sauna, hot or cold baths/showers, and ice on your skin for up to 48 hours following the session. Extreme temperature changes in the area of the treatment can cause previously relaxed muscles to tighten and spasm.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar and alcohol: These treatments bring up previously held congestion and toxins to the surface of your skin to be released. Your liver will be processing this release for 24-48 hours following your treatment. It is best to give your body (and your liver) a break during this time of healing.