When you hear “cupping,” you might think of fire, mini glass fish bowls, and dark-colored circles that make it look like the person being treated was confronted by an octopus. Though cupping has been around for centuries, it’s become increasingly popular over the past couple of years due to demonstration videos going viral on YouTube. To some people, cupping may look scary and painful, but it’s actually quite soothing and totally worth having to explain to people that you weren’t, in fact, attacked by the Kraken!
What is Cupping?
Cupping is an alternative to traditional massage that originated in China. Rather than apply pressure to the sore or tender areas, therapists use the cupping method to create suction, which encourages blood flow and healing. They also perform cupping to enable the flow of “qi,” or life form.
Ge Hong (281–341 A.D.), a famous Taoist, is thought to have been the first person to practice cupping. Taoists believe that qi is the balance of yin and yang—negative and positive—in the body. Cupping helps to restore this balance, which increases blood flow and alleviates pain.
How Can Cupping Help Me?
If you’re stressed, have tight muscles, or need to relax—or all of the above—then cupping can help you! At Functional Bodywork Therapy, we use cupping to ease muscle aches and pains. Cupping provides our clients numerous benefits: relaxation of tight muscles, soothing of muscle spasms, release of lactic acid, and improvement in blood circulation. We also treat adhesions, hypertonicity, and restricted fascia.
What Should I Expect During My Cupping Treatment?
Before we begin your therapeutic massage, we will conduct a brief consultation to determine your treatment plan. We will review the techniques that we may or may not use—among those being cupping.
If cupping is a part of your treatment plan, our therapists will utilize the vacuum cupping method, rather than fire. This consists of a plastic cup that’s attached to a suction handle. We place the opened side of the cup directly on your skin and pull the handle to create a suction. Your skin will rise in the cup and begin to turn red or purple—the color will be darker in the spots that were lacking blood flow. We will do this as many times and in as many places as we see fit to help relieve your pain.
While we regularly utilize cupping in our practices, we will walk you through everything you need to know about cupping during the consultation prior to your session to ensure that you’re comfortable before we proceed. However, we won’t include cupping if you are uncomfortable with it, or if you have a formal event, such as a wedding, coming up. Cupping will temporarily discolor your skin, as the suction pulls the blood into the area being treated. Though most of the marks would most likely be covered, we want to make sure that you’re aware of this before we start.
Where Do I Book My Cupping Treatment?
At Functional Bodywork Therapy, cupping is one of the many techniques we use during our Therapeutic Integration sessions to provide pain relief. If you’ve never received a massage from us before, we invite you to check out our What To Expect For Your First Massage blog post. If you’re a returning client, you can schedule your session here!
Dharmananda, S. (1999). Cupping. ITM.