All about Cupping Therapy

All about Cupping Therapy

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping Therapy originates from traditional chinese medicine. Whilst the traditional method focuses on balancing energy (Qi) in the body, modern approaches focus on treating the musculoskeletal system.

Cupping Therapy is used to encourage oxygen and blood flow into the muscles which reduces tension in the muscles and promotes healing in damaged tissues.It has also been found to have a strong anti-inflammatory response.

Traditionally, a flame is used to create a vacuum effect however a more modern approach (Dry Cupping) is to use a vacuum pump. The benefit of this variation is that the amount of suction can be monitored and controlled in line with the client’s feedback.

What are the benefits of Cupping Therapy?

Cupping Therapy works well as a combination therapy as well as a stand alone treatment. By encouraging blood flow to the soft tissues, Cupping is a great way to treat injuries and tissue dysfunction.

The benefits of Dry Cupping include;

  • Stretching tight fascia and muscles
  • Increased blood flow and circulation
  • Stimulating healing
  • Aiding pain management  
  • Reducing swelling/inflammation

How does Cupping work?

The method I use at OH Sports Therapy is Dry Cupping using vacuum cups. When the cup is applied to the skin, the vacuum pulls stagnant blood from the area and encourages fresh blood into this area. This presents as large circular marks.

As fresh blood is forced into the area being treated, neovascularisation (new blood vessel formation) occurs. This results in an increase of oxygen and nutrients being fed to the tissues.

Another effect of cupping is sterile inflammation. The vacuum effect of the cups creates separation of the tissue layers (microtrauma) which encourages the body to release white blood cells, platelets etc to promote healing (sterile inflammation).

Cupping also produces a stretch reflex which reduces muscular tension and improves mobility.

Who is Cupping for?

Anyone who has an injury, aches/pains, muscular tension or a sedentary lifestyle/occupation (e.g. desk job).

Through inactivity (e.g. sitting at a desk all day), the blood supply to the tissue decreases resulting in the fascia becoming knotted. This further limits movement. Cupping Therapy can reduce these effects by increasing blood supply to the fascia, muscle and skin and therefore increasing pliability of soft tissues.

*Cupping Therapy is not suitable for anyone on blood thinners or who has received or is receiving lymphatic cancer treatment or surgery.

Is Cupping Therapy Painful?

Cupping is generally painless. Similar to sports massage it can be uncomfortable at times and certain areas may be more sensitive however the body very quickly adapts to the treatment. Often clients will find a certain area uncomfortable then a minute later as the muscle relaxes, they do not notice that the cups are even there. 

If a client is in pain/highly stressed, this is where cupping has an advantage over massage. During a massage, in this scenario, the client will often fight against the treatment. Deep pressure will result in the client holding their breath and tensing their muscles (which has the opposite effect to what the intention is). Cupping is an upward pressure rather than downward which many people find much more comfortable.

What are the side effects of Cupping Therapy?

Cupping draws blood to the external capillaries of the body and as a result, circular marks may be visible after treatment (or sliding marks depending on the method used). The colour of these marks will vary per person from light red/orange to brown or dark red/purple. Although these marks can look like bruises, they are not the same as a bruise and will be painless.

The marks can last anywhere from a few hours to 2 weeks. As these marks start to clear, the client will further feel the benefits of the treatment.

Got a question about Cupping Therapy or want to book a treatment? Get in contact today to find out more!

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