Cupping!! Oh cupping! What a great therapy to experience! "Are those markings bruises??" The most common question I get asked besides "Does it hurt?" I love introducing people to cupping because it is an old therapy that is making itself well known across the U.S. This form of treatment is well known around the globe in many countries. Cupping dates back to about 3,000 years. First documented in China and Egypt as one of many uses of medical practices. It was used to treat aliments such as digestion, pain, and menstrual issues. Being an ancient medical practice in other countries, the techniques have changed a bit with modern times. There are a few different aspects that are looked at and treated. For many, this therapy is intimidating due to the markings that are left once the cups are removed. However, there are several reasons as to why this form of treatment and those "intimidating" markings are actually great signs of a successful treatment.
What is cupping?
Cupping during modern times consists of applying glass, porcelain or clay cups to the body through a suction created either by fire or through a suction pump. The suction within the cup will allow the superficial or surface of the skin and muscle to be lifted a bit. By leaving the cups on for a period of time, the muscles begin to relax which will increase blood flow within the area the cups are placed. This then starts the natural detoxification process that naturally occurs throughout the body on a daily basis. Once this process is initiated, the body is able to get rid of toxins that have been built up and/or gotten stuck within the muscle or tissues and filter it out of the body properly.
When the cups are removed there are typically circular marks that vary in color from pink to purplish-black. This gives the practitioner an idea of how the body is currently functioning. The different colors of the spots signify different meanings such as pain, muscle tension, and excess toxins. The lighter the color the better the blood circulation is flowing and less tense the muscles are. The darker spots indicate a few areas that need more focus and possibly toxins and slow moving blood need to be released. Typically, the spots with the darker colors are the areas that have the most pain or discomfort. The marking are used as a form of clues during the treatment process to really know how to target with the best approach.
This immediately sounds foreign to someone who is not familiar with or who has never had cupping before. However, there are several benefits as why one should give cupping therapy a try!
1) Detox the Body
As mentioned above, cupping therapy helps to detoxify the muscles. By releasing the toxins and impurities, we are able to increase the efficiency of our body systems. The body is constantly working to filter out the waste products that are accumulated with each necessary biological process. When this happens, we begin to feel better, move better, have more energy, and better protected with our immune systems.
2) Improve Blood Circulation
Cupping is great to increase blood flow. When the dark color circles appear after the cups are removed this indicates that blood isn't moving as well as it should within the muscle fibers. However, when we feel the effects of cupping, the blood is then filtered through the body's detox process and is reused as "clean" blood. We want this process to occur. Blood that is stuck causes pain, lactic acid build up, and the muscles feel stiff. So when blood begins to flow freely it allows new blood to move in and nourish the necessary areas with nutrients, water, plasma, etc.
3) Decreases Inflammation and Swelling
Getting rid of all the nasty built up stuff and increasing the blood circulation, the amount of inflammation within the body is reduced. The inflammatory cells are able to work more efficiently to move out the dead cells and start healing. This goes hand in hand with the detox process which also reduces swelling by eliminating extra fluid that increases during the inflammation response.
4) Increase Joint Mobility
Along with reducing inflammation and swelling, as well as improving blood flow, cupping helps to increase joint mobility. When the cups are placed around the muscles that surround the joints, the muscles are able to release. This allows the joints to move freely within their normal range of motion.
5) Boosts Immune System
Cupping has long been used as a treatment during times of colds and flu. It is one of the go-to treatments within my practice to assist the healing process when my patients feel a cold coming on, when asthma increases or during seasonal allergies. Cupping filters out the bad stuff to allow the good stuff to get where it needs to go. Improving the overall rhythm of the immune system.
6) Relaxation & Reducing Stress
The number one reason I hear most people say they would like to try cupping is to de-stress and relax. Well, cupping will do just that! Cupping is great in many ways in that you can feel the effects immediately. Releasing muscle tension is one of the first noticeable effects after a session. While the cups sit, the body will begin to relax and the stress levels start to decrease.
Cupping therapy is a whole experience in itself. It truly is a great way to assist your body's healing and to get rid of all the waste that builds up on a daily basis.