What is cupping and what are the benefits?
Cupping is apart of Oriental medicine and one of the earliest documentations on cupping was dated all the way back in 300AD by a Taoist herbalist by the name of Ge Hong. In both the eastern and western medical world it is believed that illnesses and impairments can be sucked out of the body. In the 1950s Cupping was officially established as a therapeutic practice across all hospitals in China.
There are two types of cupping, however in the western culture only “dry” cupping is performed. This involves placing plastic or glass cups over areas of the body to disperse and break up stagnation and congestion by drawing congested blood, toxins, waste products through the veins, arteries and muscle fibres, which in turn has the potential to relieve muscles spasms. It also
- aids in promoting blood flow and circulation to muscles and tissue
- supplies oxygen to the cells
- loosens the fascia and connective tissue
- breaks up scar tissue and is thought to stimulate healing.
- Can release and drain excess fluids and toxins.
- Decreases pain in muscles
- Activates the lymphatic system to remove waste products
- Lifts connective tissue and loosens adhesions
For glass cups a flame is lit to add heat to the inside of the cup so as it is placed on your skin it draws the superficial layer into the cup and creates the suction.
Cupping is much like deep tissue massage but reversed, instead on pressing into the muscle belly and manipulating the fibres to release congestion, cupping does the opposite and draws the muscle and toxins out. For most people this is a relaxing and relieving process and will create a reduction in pain, inflammation and an increase in relaxation, well being and promotes fresh blood flow to congested areas which in turn creates a better cell to cell communication.
Once the cups are applied they can then be moved around the area – this is called gliding cupping and can cover a larger area as opposed to stationary cupping. Stationary cups can be left in the same spot for up to 10-15minutes to focus on specific trigger points of hyper active, over stimulated areas in muscle bellies. The cups are removed by sliding your finger under one edge of the cup releasing the seal and vacuum.
There are minimal side effects to cupping, it is almost certain there will be bruising either, pink, red or purple and this is believed to be a successful treatment by showing the removal of toxins and stagnation. It can last anywhere from a couple of days to up to 2 weeks but is almost never painful and depends a lot on the hydration of your muscles – so drinking water is a big after care factor.
A common philosophy in the cupping world is ‘where there is pain there is stagnation. Remove the stagnation and you remove the pain”. The old Chinese concept believes that pain in the muscles and body results from a congestion, stagnation and blockage of vital energy and fluids, lymph, phlegm and blood. Therefore, if pain is the essence of disease, then the suffering of pain is a result of irregular or obstructed flow in the body. This is where cupping is useful as it is a method of breaking up the blockages to restore the body’s natural flow of energy.