Ever seen someone with those perfect round bruise marks on their back and thought has this person been hit at high speed with tennis balls – only to find out they have had ‘cupping’? Below our myotherapist Cecilia answers all your questions in regards to cupping.
What is Cupping?
Cupping therapy dates back to ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern culture. Its origins come from Traditional Chinese Medicine to reduce stagnation and improve qi (energy) flow. Therapeutic cups were made from either glass, bamboo or earthenware. Now day’s cups are more commonly used made from glass, plastic or silicone. Suction cupping can be achieved by a technique called fire cupping, which is traditionally used by Chinese medicine practitioners. When cupping is used during myotherapy treatment the aim is on improving the musculoskeletal system function. The types of cups most commonly used in myotherapy are vacuum suction cups.
How is cupping performed?
Cups are placed on the skin and a hand operated pump is used to remove the air from the cup, causing the skin and superficial muscle to be raised up within the cup and held. Cups will generally be left on the skin between 5 and 10 minutes. During some treatment the cups are moved up and down the skin to target the length of a muscle or increase overall blood flow.
What does cupping do to the body?
This technique may cause the tissue to release toxins and congestion within the affected tissue, may activate the lymphatic system by encouraging blood to move to the area of cupping and may relieve muscle and fascial tension and may improve the body’s cardiovascular function. Suction cupping may also help calm hypersensitive nerves as muscle and connective tissue is pulled away from the body instead of being pushed.
How does cupping help during a Myotherapy treatment?
Myotherapists use several tools when assessing and treating musculoskeletal dysfunction with cupping being a common aid, especially if a patient is feeling tender and sore. Cupping can be used as an alternative to trigger point therapy or deep tissue massage during treatment as it is a gentler technique for releasing muscular trigger points and stretching muscle and fascia. It can also be used in conjunction with other hands on techniques a myotherapist uses to help relieve pain, improve movement and muscle tone.
What side effects should I expect from cupping?
Suction cupping can leave some discoloration where the cups were on the body post treatment, which can present itself as redness and bruising, however these marks do fade over the next few days and most patients forget that they’ve had cupping after treatment.
After treatment patients can also feel a little light headed or tired post treatment, this is completely normal and expected as cupping does involve improving blood flow around congested tissue. It’s important that you take your time getting up post treatment and increasing your water intake as this will help flush out the toxins released from your body.