What is Cupping?
Cupping is a Chinese medicine technique that has been used for centuries for many different conditions. I use plastic cups with a one way valve placed on the skin, and a pump to create a vacuum-like seal. The superficial muscle layer is drawn up into the cup, which stimulates the circulation of blood, breaks up adhesions, and creates a pathway for toxins to be drawn out of the body through the lymphatic system. It has been found that cupping can affect tissues up to 4 inches deep; affecting blood vessels, fascia (or connective tissue), muscles, and scar tissue.
What does it feel like?
You might be thinking, "Manuela, I've seen pictures and that looks painful!" Quite the opposite actually. The feeling is very unique. Typically with massage you press into the tissues, but with cupping it's the opposite, where you pull the tissues up. The suction is pulling away tension and pressure from tight and painful muscles. Depending on the amount of suction and the state of the underlying tissues, it can leave circular marks that vary from a light yellow to dark purple. Although these marks may look like bruises that are not. A bruise is tender to touch and is a result of injury or damage to the area.
In Chinese medicine it is believed that the darker the marks, the more stagnation of Qi and blood. Stagnation leads to pain and dysfunction or imbalance within tissues, so we want to clear that out for better body functioning. From a Western standpoint, cupping creates more space in between the tissue layers to get rid of dead cellular debris, excess fluids and toxins, and breaks up scar tissue. The marks are caused by the debris being pulled up and deposited under the skin; which is the most effective place for the lymphatic system (part of our body's detoxify function) to drain it and process it.
What are the benefits?
Stimulates the body's relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system)
Induces a feeling of lightness and relief of pressure
Promotes oxygenation of the blood while ridding metabolic debris in muscle tissue, fascia, and skin.
Increases range of motion, breaks up adhesions, and promotes healing in scar tissues and chronic injury sites.
Cup marks may take anywhere from a few days to a full week to fade completely. (IMPORTANT to remember if you have an event or other reason you may not want to have marks to show off)
Pregnant women will receive modified treatment, just as they would for traditional massage therapy.
Cupping is not appropriate if you have thin or damaged skin, or if you are taking blood thinners.
What can it treat?
Tight and sore muscles (back pain, sciatica, piriformis syndrome, IT band pain, rotator cuff injuries, plantar fasciitis)
Respiratory conditions: asthma, bronchitis
Emotional balance: anxiety, depression, stress, migraines
High blood pressure by calming the nervous system