An ancient art form, those mysterious bruises, the flames… there’s a lot to unpack. Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about cupping.
What is Cupping?
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. Air is taken out of the cup to create a vacuum, so when it’s placed on the body, will draw it up into the cup. The cups can be made of glass, bamboo, earthenware or silicone. At Fluid, we use glass cups, and mainly perform flame cupping.
Cupping might be trendy now, but it’s not new. It dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C.
It was even recommended by Hippocrates, the man whom many consider to be the “Father of Modern Medicine,” in his guide to clinical treatment.
What can it help with?
This therapy has been used to treat pain and inflammation for centuries. It has been known to relax muscles, encourage blood flow and ease high blood pressure by soothing the nervous system.
Our myotherapists will use cupping to apply a hyper-tensile force – lifting the fascia up from the muscle – rather than applying a sheer force down as used in deep tissue massage.
We also use it to release neuromuscular holds. Sometimes the brain tells the muscle to contract when it doesn’t need to, especially after a day sitting at a desk. You’ll come home and your shoulders will be around your ears. A therapist will use cupping to ease muscle tension and encourage blood flow, helping you to relax.
What does it feel like?
You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Often, this sensation is relaxing and soothing. Sometimes it might feel like someone is giving you a giant hickey.
What about the infamous marks?
They look like bruises, but they’re not painful. The cups will cause the skin to temporarily turn red, blue or purple, especially if there is an injury or circulatory issue under the area that was cupped. The skin discolouration can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. The cupping marks won’t hurt like bruises, and once the marks have cleared, the procedure can be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.
What are the different types of cupping?
During a session, your therapist will use a flame to draw oxygen out of the glass cup. As the fire goes out, the cup is placed on the skin.
As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. This causes your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand.
The cup is generally left in place for up to 3 minutes. The cup may also be pushed up and down your skin to lift the fascia of the muscle, in order to lengthen the muscle and encourage blood to the surface.
Vacuum cups are made of plastic or silicone, and the suction is created by a small pump rather than a flame.
There are a number of methods of cupping — the two most common here in are “fixed cupping” and “moving cupping.”
The cups are placed on a selected area of your body and then left in place without being moved.
As the name implies, in this method your practitioner will apply massage oil or cream on your skin in selected places. They’ll then put the cups over the areas to be treated, and then slide them around that region of the body — usually around your back. The cups slide easily and it feels like a nice massage.
Dynamic cupping – also known as functional cupping – is used to treat certain types of fascial distortions that cause muscle pain. Once these silicone cups are in place, the underlying muscles are contracted and taken through a range of motion. This relieves tissue tensions, and results in pain relief.
Anything else I should know?
It’s not scary and it’s fairly safe, as long as you go to a trained professional. It’s one of the many treatment modalities that we offer at Fluid Health, so if you are interested in booking a session, give us a call on 03 99391133 or you can click here to book online. You can also find out more by clicking here.
Healthcare Rebates may apply. HICAPS facilities are available