Cupping is thousands of years old. We have just been made more aware of it by the recent media exposure and new methods of applying the cups. Cupping practices span many different cultures. You may remember your grandparents applying this sort of therapy if you are from South America, Europe, Asia, India, or the Middle East.
There are variations in cupping methods including dry and wet cupping. Cups bring circulation and reduce stagnation in certain areas of the body. It is a relaxing non-needle therapy that can be used to treat muscular pain and tension related to stress. It can also be used in certain protocols to alleviate certain respiratory symptoms.
Cupping promotes healthy circulation, lymph flow, and energy flow in the local area. It is used mainly to treat pain syndromes in Chinese Medicine, specifically those caused by wind dampness. (Wind damp pain is the variety that responds well to heating pads, hot showers, and warming creams.) Muscle pain and tension in the shoulders and low back respond beautifully. Cupping can not only be used to relieve muscle tension and pain, but it can also speed recovery from training regimens.
Suction and Silicone Cupping: Muscle pain and strain from training (athletes and weekend warriors) can be alleviated with a few sessions of cupping making cupping a comfortable and relaxing experience. We adjust the suction to accommodate the patient's comfort level. There still may be bruising, which can be treated with Arnica or Traumeel cream. Cups applied to local tension in the shoulders or back can feel wonderful. You only need a few minutes for relief and for some signature cup marks.
Fire Cupping: This involves glass cups, and a lighted alcohol swab on hemostats. The lit cotton is inserted into the cup, removed, and the cup quickly placed on the skin. The heat only causes suction, it does not make the cup warm or hot. Glass cups have a smooth edge that can be moved across lightly lubricated skin (light layer of massage oil) to have a deep tissue massage like effect. This therapy is deeply relaxing. The benefit to the glass/fire cupping is that it can be gently moved over the skin surface as opposed to plastic suction cups which are constructed with a thinner rim and cannot be comfortably moved while on the skin.
Wet Cupping: Wet cupping is a variation of the procedure where prior to the cup being placed, your skin is punctured and blood is drawn out in the suction process. There is also a variation where the dry cupping technique is done before puncturing your skin for wet cupping. At least one study suggests that wet cupping may help the kidneys clear heavy metals from the body and reduce and remove stagnation or stagnant blood.
Cupping does not hurt, and it can be applied at your comfort level. It is often a relaxing experience with lasting effect.