By Dianne Wall
Cupping therapy is an ancient traditional technique that uses negative pressure (suction) to assist the body’s own healing process by improving blood and lymph circulation and pulling toxins from the tissues. It was once commonplace around the world, most notably in China where its documented use dates back over 2,000 years. With the rise of ‘modern’ medicine and pharmaceuticals cupping fell out of favor at the end of the 19th century, though it remained a home remedy in many cultures. Thanks to celebrities like actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps who avail themselves of its benefits, cupping is gaining popularity again.
Cupping can be used to facilitate muscle and fascia tension release, relieve back/shoulder/joint pain, improve lymph circulation, sports injuries, relieve chest congestion due to colds or flu, reduce adhesions, and treat many more concerns. A treatment lasts from 5 to 30 minutes depending on the client’s constitution, complaint and type of cupping employed. Weekly treatment is typical in the West but in the East a series of 10 daily treatments repeated after a week’s hiatus is not unusual.
Early cupping tools included things like gourds and hollowed out animal horns. Cups now come in a variety of materials, styles, and sizes. For example: glass or plastic cups that are used with a suction pump handle, rubber and silicone cups that are flexible enough to squeeze while applying, and glass cups for fire cupping. Once applied, cups can be left in place or moved in a gliding manner over the skin.
What about those marks? Cupping draws stagnated toxins and fluids to the surface which can cause discoloration. The marks are not painful and will fade within a few hours or up to two weeks without changing color.
-Dianne Wall, BCTMB, LMT, RM, KRM, LRM