Cupping is an ancient therapy from East Asian which a depressurized a glass or plastic cup is placed on a muscle. The skin under the cup is lifted up under the cup. This increases the circulation of the area and leaves the temporary cupping bruise which was made so famous my Michael Phleps in the Olympics of 2016.
What is cupping used for?
Cupping can be used for for muscle pain, arthritis, tendonitis, fatigue, and stress. You can also use it to help colds and cough. [1-3] It is often used to help recovery from stroke.Cupping can be very helpful for inflammatory acne.
Can cupping be done alone or in combination with other therapies?
Yes. But I most often combine it with acupuncture.
Are there different methods to perform cupping?
Different cupping techniques are used depending on the therapeutic goal. Flash fire cupping is when the cups are rapidly and repeatedly placed close to one another on a region of the body, the upper back for example. Sliding cups are when a lubricant, petroleum jelly or a waxy balm, is rubbed into an area of the body, usually the back. The cups are positioned over the balm and slid back and forth throughout a region. These techniques are both considered dry cupping and are excellent for muscle pain, common colds, and chest congestion. [2,4]
Bleeding cupping, also called wet cupping, is another technique. The skin is pricked with a lancet and the cup is placed over the area. The suction from the cup will draw blood through the incision. The bleeding is thought to remove heat and stagnation from the body. Wet cupping is more often used for reducing swelling, inflammation, and removing heat from the body.
How does cupping work?
In Chinese medicine, cupping is thought to increase the circulation of blood and remove toxins from the body. Cupping does bring healthy fresh blood to an area and will help to break up trigger points in the muscles. Some cupping techniques have been shown to have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect.
Does it hurt?
Cupping is not painful, or hot, but you will feel the pressure and pulling of the cups.
How long is a cupping session?
5-15 minutes depending on what we’re treating.
Is cupping safe?
Yes, cupping is very safe when performed by a trained professional. Cupping will leave the characteristic bruises. They generally do not hurt, but can look dramatic.
Gua sha is the rubbing of a coin or a spoon on the skin in one direction. Often it is done on the upper and lower back, neck, and the ribs. It is a long time home remedy which is used for colds and fever, nausea, muscle aches and pain, as well as inhibited urination.
Gua sha will break the blood vessels below the skin causing an unusual looking bruise. Small patechia will come up on the skin in the areas of the gua sha. In Chinese medicine this is called release the “sha” which helps to resolve blood stagnation and release heat. Interestingly, if there is not too much heat present, or there is no blood stagnation, it does not create a bruise.
Gua sha is very safe and very comfortable. Before the procedure we will rub oil or a balm into the skin so there is no friction with the instrument. We may combine essential oils in the balm to increase the healing effect. The pressure is much like a massage. For many symptoms, such as cold, nausea, pain, and inhibited urination, the results are very rapid.