If you’ve noticed in your daily media read-throughs that professional athletes are appearing on the field, court and in the swimming pool with round, suction marks on their skin, you’re certainly not the only one. Recently, celebrities and their fan devotees have brought a revival in popularity to this ancient practice of “cupping”. Not sure how it works? Here are five facts about cupping therapy to help you decide if this is the treatment for you.
It’s an alternative, ancient form of medicine
While cupping therapy is all the rage now, it is an alternative form of therapy dating back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures, originally used to treat pulmonary tuberculosis. It involves placing glass, bamboo, silicone or plastic jars on the skin, typically on the neck, shoulders, middle and lower back. Acupuncture can be used in tandem on points such as the chest, abdomen, buttocks, and inner and outer thighs.
There are different methods of cupping
There are many methods for cupping: wet and dry, moving and fixed. In most techniques, the therapist will put a flammable substance like alcohol, herbs or paper in a cup and set it on fire. As the fire goes out, they put the cup upside down on your skin, creating a vacuum. The cup is left in place for three minutes.
More modern versions use a rubber pump for “air” cupping rather than fire for suction, and “moving” cupping to massage different areas of the body. In “wet” cupping the skin is punctured before treatment, and a small amount of blood may flow from the puncture site to remove toxins and harmful substances.
Cupping therapy may boast a myriad of health benefits
Patients use cupping for a variety of reasons. Professional athletes use it to relieve stiffness or pain, especially for bodily injuries. Many others use it for general relaxation, treating anxiety or deep tissue massage. Cupping therapy has also been linked with easing inflammation and aging, as well as certain illnesses like fever or coughs, skin conditions and a multitude of other afflictions depending on the placement of the treatment on the body. Proponents of cupping report a general relief from pain due to the rebalancing of energy and the stimulated blood flow in the body.
Cupping leaves an impression
Other than the aforementioned potential health benefits, cupping also leaves behind bruises and circle marks on the skin as a remnant of the treatment. These imprints may last from a few days to a few weeks, but cupping may be repeated once they clear up. Arnica cream can also be applied to expedite healing.
Cupping requires precaution
Cupping therapists advise starting with about three to five cups on the first round of treatment, with a minimal amount of time and suction. Additionally, it is recommended that patients who bleed easily and/or cannot stop bleeding, have skin ulcers or edemas not partake in the practice. Pregnant women should not receive treatment on their lower back or abdomen, and should always be treated with caution.
WomenWorking is not endorsing but solely presenting information about this practice. Please consult a medical professional if you do decide to try cupping therapy.