What Is Cupping Therapy—And Should You add it to your Massage?

Therapeutic cupping has a fascinating and diverse history, and is estimated to be roughly 3,000 to 5,000 years old, found throughout countries such as China, Egypt, Bulgaria and North Africa.

A common theme regarding the beliefs behind the benefits of cupping is that it provides better energy flow, releases toxins, heals disease, eases pain and rids the body of common ailments such as colds.

With cupping’s popularity rising into mainstream therapeutic settings thanks to its use by Olympians such as swimmer Michael Phelps, modern medical researchers are taking a closer look. In studies of athletes Cupping was reported as beneficial for perceptions of pain and disability, increased range of motion, and reductions in creatine kinase when compared to untreated control groups.

The mechanical effects and benefits of cupping are fairly easy to observe and understand. Cupping primarily decompresses tissues and creates space between multiple layers. The mechanical stress created by cupping helps improve the inter-layer gliding of tissues starting at the skin, moving through superficial and deep fascia and into the underlying tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments or organ structures.

The most recognized effects of cupping are the large, blood-red, bruise-like circles on the surface of the skin. These appear because the vacuum effect between the cup and the skin creates enough negative pressure to draw blood to the surface of the skin.

Benefits of Cupping: Cupping affects several areas, including circulation, fascia, lymph and muscle tissue.

Circulation: The vacuum creates vasodilation, which draws blood flow into the tissue. The expansion of blood vessels also offers a vehicle for release of deep inflammation to the skin surface.

Fascia: Separation of strands of fascia is profound when tissue is stretched in multiple directions by the cup. Observe the tissue in and around the cup to see that the stretch often extends into the surrounding tissue. Separation of the strands and structures creates space for fascia to move properly.

Lymph: The vacuum is used to release adhesions that can block drainage and create congestion and vascular stress in the affected area. Adhesions are defined as “the joining of normally unconnected body parts by bands of fibrous tissue”. This can be scar tissue; tangled and torqued fascia; and even a compression mark from such clothing as bras, tight bike shorts or socks.

Muscle tissue: Cupping all types of muscle tissue produces effective results. The tissue visibly softens, feeling plump with hydration and blood flow when palpated. Cupping can loosen attachments and allow greater range of motion in joints when manipulated.

Generally, cupping is used to treat chronic pain—back pain, hip pain or calf pain. The focus is often to get rid of musculoskeletal pain, which is a physical manifestation of chronic stress.

Chronic stress manifests in how you carry yourself creating muscle imbalance. We’re often tensing our muscles when we’re stressed—especially when we’re hunched over our computers and our phones—and that muscle tension can result in physical pain, which is what cupping helps reduce.

Steer clear of cupping if you’re on blood thinners, have trouble with bleeding or clotting, or you have an open wound, very sensitive or thin skin. You should also avoid cupping on any areas where you have delicate skin, because it can cause tearing.

Body & Soul offers cupping as an addition to its Massage Therapy sessions. If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more please call 978-825-00040.

Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma offers the highest quality Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief. To learn more visit our website: www.bodysoulsalem.com