Cupping Therapy FAQ
What is cupping?
Cupping therapy benefits?
How do you use cupping for back pain?
How does cupping treat respiratory issues?
How does cupping treat digestive issues?
What does Chinese cupping therapy look like?
How long are cups applied for in cupping therapy?
Side effects of cupping?
Cupping has ancient roots and has been used by many different cultures in history. Both lay persons and healers of all types have used this technique. Cupping involves a suction technique that is created with the aim of pulling toxin build up and muscle spasms out of the body.
Cupping therapy is used alone or together with acupuncture treatments. Typically cups are applied to the back muscles, but they can also be used on other areas that need it. There are different methods of cupping, some are static, non-moving, and others are moved up and down over tight muscles, creating a massage like feeling.
Cupping may help with increasing blood circulation to the areas where the cups are applied. Old blood that may have lodged in the vessels may be affected by the suctioning action, and thus pulling new blood into the area as well. This happens by expanding the blood vessels in the muscles and reducing congested blood that causes discomfort and pain. Therefore it aims to reduce pain and relax stiff and sore muscles, depending on your condition. Cupping is commonly used on all parts of the back, assisting in pain relief in upper and lower back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain.
Cupping has become very popular for back pain of all types, specifically low back pain. Back pain sufferers often have a tight muscles on either side of their spine, causing pulling to one or the other side. Through application of cups on either side of the spinal muscles the spine's musculature may become more balanced, with a goal of creating a sense of alignment and pain relief. Athletes may find cupping very effective for keeping their back strong and relieving tight muscles from sporting activities and injuries.
Cupping may address chest congestion, bronchitis, the common cold and other respiratory issues. Through the application of cups on the upper back (behind the lungs), it may strengthen the respiratory muscles, break up and affect congestion in the lungs, and help to reduce heat inside the lungs that causes coughing and difficulty breathing.
Patients typically feel hungry after a cupping treatment on the abdomen due to its affects on the digestive system. Introducing the pulling of the cups on the abdomen creates a low pressure upon the belly, stimulating the secretion of digestive fluids and the peristaltic movement of the intestines. These affects may thereby be helpful in chronic digestive disorders and constipation. Introducing the cups on the back muscles may also benefit digestion.
Chinese cups are placed on the skin and the surface of the skin is slightly pulled into the cup using a manual vacuum pump. Some cups are a hard plastic and others are a heavy glass. The suction helps the cup stick to the skin, and multiple cups can be applied at one time if needed. Depending on your symptoms, cups can slide up and down the skin which may feel relaxing and similar to a massage. Cupping massage can be applied to stiff muscles due to sports injuries, over use, strained muscles, tense neck muscles, leg muscles.
Depending on your body and condition, cups may be placed on your skin for up to ten minutes. They may either stay in place for that time, or the practitioner will remove them and place them on another location of your body.
During cupping therapy the patient should expect a slight pulling, stretching and/or warm sensation when the cups are applied to the skin. Various pressures of the cups are applied depending on your body type and type of pain or condition you are experiencing. If the cups are slid up and down your skin you will feel a slight stretch, almost the same as a massage.
After cupping therapy you may have a relaxed, warm feeling and loosening of the area. Often the cups will leave reddening of the skin where the cups were applied, depending on the strength of the suction. These marks will fade sooner if they are lighter in color, and may take a bit longer if they are darker in color. Typically the reddening shows up stronger on the first treatment.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Cupping Therapy: Ilkay Zihni Chirali
The Art of Cupping: Susan Johnson, Lic.Ac ©2006