Cupping. If you’ve heard of it, you probably picture Olympic athletes (like Michael Phelps) with giant red circles on their skin. Beyond that, you likely haven’t given it much thought. So what is it? Why do people use it? And, how can it help you?
Cupping goes back thousands of years and is used to help heal skin, tissue, and more. Ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Middle Easterners all used cupping therapy as a way to heal and provide relaxation.
It has made a resurgence in popularity over the years, but this age-old alternative medicine has been around through generations. Because of its long history, it has been used to treat a huge array of ailments. People use it to calm inflammation, help treat pain, assist in gastrointestinal disorders, reduce acne, treat stretch marks, assist in deep tissue massage, and much more.
There are several different types of cups including fire cups, pump cups, and silicone cups. While each cupping method is a little different, the goal is basically the same. For at home use, silicone is probably the least expensive option.
The idea behind cupping is to suction the top layers of the skin to allow more room for blood flow and circulation. This helps to bring healthier blood to the compromised area to support healing. It’s the same idea as a deep tissue massage but approached from the opposite side.
There are many different approaches to cupping and they depend on the practitioner as well as the ailment. Sometimes the practitioner will place cups along the intended area for several minutes. Other times, they will move the cup around in a massage-type motion to provide relief to a broader area or relieve congestion.
Since it is non-invasive and has few side-effects (although there are some so make sure to research and ask questions before attempting), most people can benefit from cupping. In fact, cupping can even be used on children as long as extra care is taken and the practitioner is appropriately trained.
Many people with autoimmune disorders and chronic pain use cupping to relieve pain. Athletes often use it to assist with physical stress and injuries. Cupping is used for pre- and post-operative conditions and can help with scarring and adhesions. It is also used to help relieve congestion and headaches. This is just a short list of those who can benefit from cupping.
Our in-house massage therapist, Courtney, with In-Knead is certified in cupping and utilizes it in some of her sessions. She would be happy to give you more information and help find a suitable cupping option for you. You may want to speak with her before buying your own set of cups. Once you’re ready, there are many options available online to try at home! Just make sure you speak with and expert before jumping in too quickly!