Cupping therapy is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine ( TCM), it has been used for centuries in Ancient Chinese culture and now has been integrated into mainstream allied health. Nowadays you will find Acupuncturists, Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists all often use cupping in their treatments.
Cupping is the application of a hollow vessel to the skin via a vacuum seal. This may be achieved with a glass cup and the use of a flame or the use of plastic suction cups and a vacuum pump to remove the air.
Either way, the process achieves a tight pulling sensation of the skin and the underlying fascia of the muscles. Whilst the suction is applied space is created between layers and movement of blood and lymph is encouraged through the area.
Depending on the ailment being treated, the therapist may leave the cups in stationary positions for up to 15 min or alternatively they may use a lighter suction and slide the cups throughout an area of congestion. This is to encourage greater movement through the area and facilitate movement along those particular fascial lines (lines of tension).
From a traditional Chinese medicinal viewpoint, cupping moves Qi and Blood. Where there is areas of stagnation and accumulation of cellular waste and debris eg from poor posture, excessive gym work or maybe an old injury.
From a physiological point of view cupping helps to free up the fascial restrictions in areas that are less flexible. It helps to move blood and lymph through sections of muscle that may be restricted.
In Traditional Chinese medicine Cupping Therapy is also used at the onset of a cold or flu. To open the pores and release the cold invasion. Heavy cupping is often used to move the Wei Qi (this is the Energy at the surface of the body considered to fight off invading pathogens) in Bronchial / Chesty conditions.
Cupping Feels Awesome!
Cupping results in more freedom of movement. It can help to reset postural imbalances and release focal areas of tension.
It does occasionally leave a discolouration on the skin. This is often called a bruise however when touched is often not tender like a bruise. This discolouration is the accumulation of blood and cellular debris that has been moved as a result of the cups. Once drawn to the surface it is easier for the lymphatic system to remove the accumulated waste. Depending on the patient’s Circulation and the intensity of the discolouration the marks can take from 3-5 days to clear up.
Below are some progressive photos of the marks as they resolve after a cupping session.
Directly after cupping
5 Days Later
Cupping is a widely used modality these days however it is not right for everyone. Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medical tool, as such is better used by Accredited Registered Acupuncturists. If you are Elderly, frail or chronically ill, Cupping may not be right for you. It is generally performed as part of a Remedial Massage Treatment or Acupuncture Session.
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