Wondering about the latest bodywork trend that leaves circles on a client’s back? Actually, this technique – called Cupping therapy – is hardly new. Cupping dates back to 1550 BC when the Ancient Egyptians used it to eliminate fevers, disease, and infection. Although there are various methods of cupping, they’re all focused on the premise of increasing blood flow to heal the body’s ailments.
Using glass, ceramic, bamboo, or silicone cups, the practitioner lights a flammable material inside the cup (never near the client’s skin). As the flame extinguishes, the cup is placed upside down on the client’s body creating a suction. When the skin is pulled toward the inside of the cup, circulation is improved and toxins are drawn out of the tissue. Often, several cups are placed on a specific region of the client’s body: back, leg, arm. Though there is a slight pulling sensation, the treatment is not considered painful, but rather relaxing.
Modern cups also commonly utilize vacuum pumps, where the therapist places the cup on the client and attaches a small hand pump to it. By pumping to create a suction on the inside of the cup, the resulting effects similar to the more traditional fire cupping methods.
Similar to massage therapy, each treatment is unique and dependant on the client’s particular needs on that given day. Following the Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian pathways, the practitioner may leave the cups in place for 5-10 minutes, or they may continually glide them across the body throughout the session to best improve circulation.
In addition to alleviating muscle tension, improving blood flow, and decreasing respiratory congestion, there are several notable benefits to cupping therapy;
1. Arthritis & fibromyalgia pain relief
2. Relieving chronic migraines, allergies, or cough
3. Decreasing anxiety & depression
4. Alleviating hypertension (high blood pressure)
5. Improving skin conditions such as eczema & acne
6. Reducing cellulite
What about post-treatment circles? Due to the suction method, most clients will have visible red, blue, or purple circles based on the energetic blockage in the area. While not painful or sore, the marks may last between a couple of days to a a week or two. This isn’t a sign of damaged tissue as is commonly associated with bruise-like marks, but is actually indicative of the healing process brought on by cupping as the debilitating agents are brought near the surface to be removed. The discoloration is quite useful to the therapist as well, allowing them to determine the causes of potential health issues.
Although cupping has numerous benefits, certain conditions are contraindicated. Those with edema, heart conditions, young children, elderly, hemophilia, or skin ulcers should refrain from- or consult with the practitioner prior to scheduling- cupping sessions.