Cupping therapy has gained a lot of traction in the past years due to many olympians like Michael Phelps and other celebrities displaying their cupping marks. People often recognize these marks from cupping, but don't know the benefits of this technique or what the discolorations that are left behind are.
Cupping has been used throughout history to help people overcome illnesses and assist their road to recovery. Traditional Chinese Medicine used to believe that "cupping and acupuncture combined, more than 1/2 of the illnesses can be cured.” With wet cupping sometimes people would use cupping to remove poison or venom from the body. Back in Traditional Chinese Medicine cupping was originally used in surgery as a way to divert blood away from the surgical site. There are many benefits to cups and the nice thing is cupping can be done by itself or easily combined with other healthcare treatments.
Learn more about the history of cupping by visiting this blog:
Benefits of Cupping
Cupping will dilate the veins and arteries. This means we are able to increase flow, thus bringing in much more blood into the area being addressed. Often times there may be a heat felt in the area from all the blood. Itchiness can sometimes be felt as blood rushes into the upper layers of the fascia that may not often get proper blood-flow.
Stimulate the Lymphatic System:
When cupping dilates the veins and arteries it allows fluids to move in and out more effectively. This makes cupping very effective post injury after tissue has started healing or is fully healed. This should be done with light dynamic cupping following the lymphatic system ducts.
Loosen Muscle Tissue:
According to neurology with initial stimulus a muscle will initially facilitate and be strong, but with ongoing stimulus the body instinctively inhibits to protect itself. This means if you were to leave a cup on a spot in the body for an extended period of time the muscles fibers will inhibit and weaken allowing the tissue to relax.
Fascial Work and Decompressing layers:
The body is broken down into many layers that can be separated into fat, water, fascia, and muscle fibers. Sometimes due to trauma, dehydration, overuse and other stressors these layers can become stuck together or kinked. A great way to feel what this scenario is like is to use your left hand and pull the right side of your shirt down a little, then try reaching your right arm up and feel the difference. Normal massage therapy presses down and try to elongate them. However, cupping can lift the layers and create space to allow for proper movements and glide between the layers allowing for more effective movement.
^^Check out this amazing youtube video regarding the study of fascia and cupping:
When a cup is left in one place for an extended period of time it can leave a "mark or discoloration". This should not be confused with a bruise which is caused by damage to blood vessels and often hurts. When the body suffers trauma that causes internal bleeding or perhaps poor circulation to a specific area blood can become trapped in the tissue and not properly drain out. Over time this can discolor due to being deprived of proper nutrients (Oxygen). What cupping does is it pulls this stagnation to the surface to the lymphatic layer. Here it can properly drain out and proper blood flow can be returned to the area filled with nutrient rich blood-flow. This can take a couple sessions but often times clients mark less each session.
Cupping has a rich history and has been effectively used through many eras of history. It is not only a great addition to any massage but a highly effective self-care tool.
Learn More about Cupping here: Cupping Specialty