The art of cupping is a technique that places glass jars, silicon jars, or cups over an area of skin to open the pores. This is achieved by heating the jars or using suction to create a vacuum to draw up the skin and help stimulate the flow of blood. Additional benefits of cupping include reaching a balance and harmonize for the flow of qi, breaking up obstructions, and creating an avenue for toxins to be drawn out. Cupping can offer positive results with conditions including muscle pain & tightening, swelling or colds with fluid buildup. A common side-effect of cupping is temporary discoloration of the skin where the cups were applied. This is not serious and will generally go away after a few days. The discoloration will vary depending on different factors. Common discoloration includes light red which indicates inflammation & heat and purple with indicates poor blood flow through the muscles.

Cupping Therapy Used Today

While there are a variety of cup methods used today, the most common are fire cupping, silicone cupping & plastic cupping with manual suctions. Fire cupping is the most widely used method and uses glass cups. To achieve the suction on the skin, a therapist will soak a cotton ball in alcohol, lite it to produce a large flame and then place it inside the cup to remove all the oxygen from inside the cup. This cup is then placed on the skin to create a natural vacuum. The other cups mentioned, silicone & plastic, can be used with a manual suction to achieve the same result. This is a great alternative for patients uncomfortable with the fire cupping method.

While traditional massage uses tissue compression and positive pressure, cupping therapy creates negative pressure to reach the end goals. The negative pressure created by cupping releases soft tissue drains excess fluids and toxins, loosens adhesions, lifts connective tissue and brings blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles. Any toxin that is released from the body during this process will create a “cupping” mark that varies in colors from light pink, to dark purple. The most common color is red and is simply a reflection of the stagnation in the treated area.

Cupping therapy is a great way to quickly relieve pain in the skin, muscles, joints, nervous system, digestive system and circulatory system. In certain cases, long-term injuries and restrictions can be released in just a few treatments. Additional uses for cupping include alleviating acute injuries, pinched nerves, frozen shoulders and chronically tight muscles. It has also been known to reduce the symptoms of high blood pressure, sports injuries, sciatica, insomnia, chronic headaches, colon disorders, edema, anxiety, fatigue and poor circulation.

Typical cupping sessions at Back to Health Chiropractic & Wellness last thirty minutes. Before treatment, a therapist will meet with the client to discuss how the therapy will be tailored to their individual needs. Cupping is a very relaxing form of therapy and can be a sedative experience. Some common side effects during your cupping therapy session may include mild discomfort and itching, especially when working on areas with severe stagnation and tight fascia. You can expect the cupping marks to disappear a few hours to several weeks after your session depending on the amount of stagnation. We recommend drinking water to stay well hydrated at least 48 hours following treatment.