If you watched the last Summer Olympics, you may have noticed odd circles on the bodies of some of the athletes. You may have also seen them in photographs of certain Hollywood stars. Wondering what they could be? Those temporary marks are the result of Massage Cupping Therapy, an ancient Chinese medicine technique that can relieve chronic pain. This work combines massage movements and negative pressure created by a suction device on the skin. Massage Cupping uses plastic cups and a vacuum pistol to pull up the skin and underlying tissue. The cups are moved over the skin by gently pulling up on the cup and gliding, shaking or rotating it to stretch muscles and connective tissue. The cups can also be left in a stationary position to support soft tissue release. (These stationary cups are what can sometimes leave a circular discoloration on the body.)
The use of negative pressure, rather than tissue compression can create great results, as the suction reaches deeply into the soft tissue to pull inflammation and toxins toward the surface so that the skin and lymphatic system can readily eliminate them. The vacuum technique “separates” tissue layers, enabling water absorption and renewed blood flow to undernourished and dehydrated tissue. It is becoming evident that separation of fused, congested soft tissue and increase in tissue function can be a catalyst for change in many current health conditions.
There are many potential benefits to receiving massage cupping as part of your treatment. It can provide relief from pain and inflammation caused by injury or chronic conditions. Massage cupping provides deep work and release with less discomfort than traditional deep tissue work. It also stretches muscles and connective tissue in a way that deep tissue massage cannot. Another possible benefit of this type of work is that it can loosen adhesions and reduce the appearances of scars. This is great news for women who have had C-sections or surgery that has created a scar that they would like to be less noticeable.
Sometimes during the application and first few minutes of cupping therapy, you may experience an increase of sensation and discomfort… this is normal. The increased sensation should lessen after a few minutes. It is important to communicate with your therapist if you experience a ‘pinching’ sensation or excessive physical discomfort, as this is a sign for the cup to be loosened a bit.
There is the possibility of discoloration or rash that can occur during this type of therapy. Since it is not caused by trauma to the tissue, it is not bruising or tissue damage, but a normal response to the release and of stagnation and toxins from your body. This discoloration or rash is temporary & will dissipate within a few hours up to as long as a week in some cases, depending on how you treat your body after your session. For 24 hours after receiving cupping, you should avoid hot showers, baths, saunas, hot tubs and aggressive exercise, and aggressive exfoliation. Exposure to hot or cold conditions can produce undesired effects. It is wise to avoid excess caffeine and alcohol and consume plenty of clean drinking water.
For more information, check out http://www.cuppingtherapy.org/