Exploring the ins and outs of this exciting new therapy
Cupping therapy seems to be one of the latest trends in health and wellness treatment. In the last few years, we’ve seen everyone from celebrities to Olympic athletes using cupping therapy. While the treatment itself may seem intimidating, it is a largely useful and beneficial practice.
This article will explain what cupping therapy is, how it works, and the benefits you may experience from the treatment.
What Is Cupping and How Does it Work
Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine that originated in China and has recently gained popularity in Western cultures. Cupping can occur in different ways, but the practice involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. This suction increases local blood flow to help relieve tightness, stiffness and pain. It has also been shown to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation. There are two types of cupping therapy.
With dry cupping, a glass cup is placed on the treatment area (upside down, with the opening against the skin). A pump or manual method is used to create a suction, which draws the skin up into the cup.
Wet cupping uses a similar treatment approach to create suction; however, before the cup is applied, the skin is punctured with a fine needle so that a small quantity of blood is drawn out during the suction process.
Wet cupping uses cups that are disposable and designed for one-time use.
What To Expect From A Cupping Session
The suction cup is often heated with fire using alcohol, herbs or paper. Then, the heat source is removed, and the warm cup is placed with the open side directly on your skin. Some cupping practitioners prefer to use rubber pumps, instead of heat, to create suction.
After applying the cups, your therapist will leave them in place for 5-20 minutes, depending on your specific need. When it’s time to remove the cups, your therapist will release the pressure from the cup and set it aside. The release of pressure often feels calming, and you’ll notice your body feels lighter and less tense.
Sometimes during treatment, your therapist will apply lotion or oil to your skin and create a lesser pressure so the cups can glide across your skin. This is called “moving cupping.” Moving cupping is often used for treating digestion, inflammation, and congestion. Your therapist will glide the cups toward your lymph glands, as a way of helping your body remove toxins and waste through your lymphatic system.
Is It Painful?
Depending on your personal pain tolerance, you may find cupping therapy slightly uncomfortable for a few minutes as you get used to the feeling of your skin stretching. The suction will feel tight at first while it draws your skin up into the cup. However, that tight feeling passes quickly as your therapist moves on to place the next cup. Most people report only some mild discomfort during treatment.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Cupping is safe, as long as you go to a trained health professional. Still, after treatment, you could have these side effects in the area where the cups touch your skin:
- Mild discomfort
- Slight burns
- Stagnation marks caused by static blood blow, static lymph flow, cellular debris, pathogenic factors, and/or toxins present in body tissue
What Happens After Treatment?
Your therapist should give you a detailed after-care guide at the end of your session.
But here are a few general tips:
- Hydrate. You may feel a bit dizzy at the end of your cupping session. Just like a deep tissue massage, your body is working through the effects of the treatment. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help your body along in this process.
- Avoid showering. Cupping opens your skin’s pores. It’s best to let the treatment area remain dry and warm.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol causes your body to remove fluids from your blood, which leads to dehydration. Avoid drinking after your cupping treatment.
- Rest. You may feel fatigued or experience flu-like symptoms the next day. This is normal. It’s your body processing and expelling the toxins that were released during your cupping session. Take it easy and get extra rest to allow your body the healing time it needs.
After treatment and recovery, you may feel less stiff and more limber and relaxed. You may also experience more specific results based on your treatment plan and individual needs.
What Is Cupping Used to Treat?
Researchers have studied cupping primarily in China, finding it to be helpful in treating conditions like:
- High Blood Pressure
- Anxiety and Depression
- Arthritis and Fibromyalgia
- Blood Disorders
- Chronic Pain
Is Cupping Right For Me?
If you are suffering from an injury or any of the common conditions listed above and if you are open to alternative medicine and treatment, cupping could be for you. Be sure to seek out a trained professional for treatment. Lastly, before beginning any alternative therapy, remember to let your doctor know that you’re planning to incorporate it into your treatment plan.