Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. There are various types of cupping, the most common is fire cupping which involves using heat to create a "suction" or negative pressure between the cup and skin, which releases pressure off of the underlying tissues (i.e., muscle, fascia, connective tissues), drains excess fluids and toxins from muscle tissue, increases circulation to stagnant skin and muscles, decreases painful muscle tissues, myofascial and connective tissue restrictions, detoxify tissues, increases energy, alleviates stress, and relieves illness. The other forms of cupping are Baguanfa (silicone cups) and Kangzhu (rigid plastic cups), all of which provide the above listed benefits to the body.
It is a very effective and painless way to help lift and release compressed tissues that you have not been able to release with traditional compressive massage. It is safe, comfortable and remarkably effective for many disorders.
What are those cupping marks about?
The most common misunderstanding regarding the after effects of cupping are the marks that sometimes result. When deep muscle injuries occur, bleeding often occurs, causing deep bruises and swelling. The combining presence of these elements usually results in stagnation of circulation to the area - resulting in pain, dysfunction, and chronic conditions.
The vacuum formed by Cupping draws up the old non-circulating stagnant blood and chronic swelling from the area, bringing them up to the surface and away from the injury so that healthy free circulation can be restored to the affected area, thus creating space for oxygen, living cells and nutrients for faster recovery.
Where there is dead, static blood, lymph, cellular debris, pathogenic factors, and toxins present in the body, Cupping can leave marks which indicates that the stagnation or disease has been moved from the deeper tissue layers to the surface.
The color and pattern of the marks depend on the level of stagnation in the area, and range from a bright red to dark purple, usually lasting 3 days to a week - sometimes longer if the person is very sick or sedentary. If there is no stagnation present, there will be only a pink marking which disappears in a few minutes to a couple of hours.
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Upper right swimmer - Cupping is widely used on Olympic athletes for pain relief Lower right: 2 Cupping articles in the WSJ in the past 4 years!
Dr. Gayle Fischer, DPT, MPT