Cupping Therapy: What Is It and How Does it Work?
The 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed due to a global pandemic, but many still have the image of the red and purple circles on Michael Phelps and other athletes' bodies at the 2016 Rio Olympics seared into their memories.
Those red and purple circles were the result of an ancient Chinese therapy now referred to as "cupping" or "cupping therapy". From athletes like Michael Phelps to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, cupping therapy has received a lot of attention in recent years.
You don't have to be an athlete or celebrity to try cupping therapy and experience its effects. Here is a closer look at cupping therapy, from how cupping works to its benefits to whether it could be right for you.
What is cupping therapy?
Cupping therapy is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years to treat pain, muscle stiffness, and other ailments. Today, cupping therapy is used as both a massage technique and muscle recovery tool.
How is cupping done?
In dry cupping, a glass cup is placed on the skin, over a specific muscle or region of the body. The air inside the glass cup becomes pressurized and suctions the skin into the glass. Once suction is created, cups can either be pulled across the skin by a practitioner, typically with the help of massage oil, or remain in the same spot. Cups are affixed to the skin for approximately ten minutes before being removed.
What does cupping do?
Your blood contains oxygen and other minerals that are necessary for every muscle and organ in your body to function. Blood is regularly cycled through your body in a process called circulation. If your body has an injury, blood flow promotes healing. Cupping is a targeted form of circulation, directing blood to a specific region in the body to promote circulation, increased oxygenation and healing.
Cupping Therapy Benefits
Practitioners and recipients of this form of therapy report a wide variety of cupping benefits.
- Noninvasive, natural therapy - Cupping is a form of treatment that does not require ingesting medication or inserting anything into the body.
- Pain relief - People who receive cupping therapy report the increased blood flow to a targeted site provides pain relief.
- Improved muscle recovery - Athletes who use cupping therapy claim the heightened circulation to specific muscles promotes recovery.
Other reported benefits of cupping include decreased acne from removing toxins from the skin, heightened metabolism, relief from constipation and improved digestion.
Cupping Therapy is used to treat:
- Poor Circulation
- TMJ Disfunction
- Parkinson's Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Poorly Nourished Skin and Muscle Tissue
- Stagnant Lymph & Edema
- Pre- and Post- Operative Conditions
- Athletic Stress & Injury
- Scars & Adhesions
- Muscular Aches
Cupping Therapy Side Effects
As with all treatments, there are potential side effects. Known side effects and risks of cupping therapy are low. Some reported side effects of cupping include mild bruising at the site, which disappears within ten days, and slight discomfort during the procedure. If you have any concerns about possible side effects, please consult your health care provider.
Does cupping work?
Cupping is an alternative form of medicine, like acupuncture or massage. As in all forms of medicine and treatment, people respond differently. Some people experience the positive effects of cupping while others do not see a difference. Your certified cupping therapist will work with you to determine the best form of treatment for your needs.
Who can benefit from cupping therapy?
Athletes and celebrities have promoted the health impacts of cupping therapy, but almost anyone can enjoy them. The majority of healthy people can benefit from cupping therapy. Extra caution should be taken with seniors, children, people on blood thinners, and pregnant women. Your massage therapist will talk with you to decide if cupping therapy is an appropriate form of treatment.
Where can I find cupping near me?
Before you undergo any form of treatment, you should make sure your practitioner has specific training in that technique. Ask your practitioner what kind of instruction they have received and if they are certified. It is also important to consult your primary care provider before incorporating alternative medicine or treatment into your routine.
Reid Health employs Certified Cupping Therapists and has an expert team of massage therapy providers who can discuss treatments with you related to athletic needs. You can set up an appointment with massage therapy by calling (765) 983-3358 - prompt 5 or requesting an appointment online.