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What is Cupping Therapy?

Nov 15, 2022 | Blog Archive, Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation, and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.

Cupping therapy dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, mentions cupping. Traditionally, cupping was done with heat (fire cupping). Therapists would put an empty cup on your skin and then use fire to suck the air out. This created a vacuum effect that pulled your skin into the cup.

Nowadays, therapists may use heat (fire cupping) or pumps (mechanical cupping) to remove the air from the cup. The result is the same: suction that pulls your skin up. It is thought that this mobilizes blood flow and promotes healing by drawing toxins out of your body. This can release muscle tension, help relieve pain, and promote relaxation.

How Cupping Therapy is Performed?

Fire Cupping: In this method, the therapist will soak a cotton ball in alcohol and light it on fire. They will then quickly place the burning cotton ball into an empty glass cup and place the cup upside down on your skin. The heat will create suction as it sucks all of the oxygen out of the cup. The therapist will then massage the area for a few minutes before removing the cups. Depending on how much suction was created, you may have circular marks left on your skin that range in color from pink to purple. These marks are not painful and usually fade within a few days after treatment.

Mechanical Cupping: This method uses more modern equipment that has a pump to remove air from the cup instead of using fire. As with fire cupping, this process also creates suction that pulls your skin into the cup. The therapist will place these cups on your skin and then use the pump to remove air from inside the cups until they are entirely sealed to your skin. Again, depending on how much suction was created by this process, you may have circular marks left behind on your skin that are not painful but can take a few days to fade away completely.
Cupping Massage: This method is similar to traditional massage except that instead of using their hands, the therapist will use cups to massage your muscles with long gliding strokes. The therapist may also use different-sized cups or varying amounts of suction during treatment depending on what areas they are targeting and what results they are hoping to achieve.

Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine with many potential benefits ranging from pain relief to relaxation. It is usually safe when performed by a trained professional, but there are some risks involved, so be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your therapist before treatment begins. If you are looking for an alternative form of healing or just want to try something new, cupping therapy may be right for you!