At the recent 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, there was significant interest in the round, bruise-like discolorations on the body of Michael Phelps and other athletes. These marks, in addition to unparalleled detoxification and circulation, are a result of an ancient form of Chinese medicine, cupping therapy. This myofascial tissue massage promotes healing and provides relief from inflammation, strengthens the immune system and helps reduce cellulite. Cupping therapy has been steadily gaining in popularity as a method to reduce pain and allow more effective deep tissue work while promoting blood flow and overall relaxation.
The History of Cupping Therapy
You may not have heard about cupping therapy until recently, but it has in fact been around for thousands of years. The modern iteration of cupping theory is generally considered to have originated in China, where its use was first recorded between 281 – 341 A.D.1 But there are mentions of it in the Ebers Papyrus, an ancient medical “book” written in 1550 B.C. There are also records that indicate various forms of cupping therapy were used by ancient Greeks to treat various ailments and maladies.
How Does It Work?
Cupping uses vacuum suction to pull the skin, tissues and muscle below the cup up, improving circulation, relieving pain and pulling toxins out of the body. Traditional cupping involved heating the cup by burning something in it, such as herbs, paper or cotton soaked in alcohol, which heats the cup. Once the material began to smolder the cupping practitioner would then flip the cup and strategically place it on the patient’s body.
Once the air inside the heated cup began to cool it would create a vacuum within the cup, which has the effect of pulling the skin and underlying tissues and muscle slightly up into the cup. This causes the blood vessels in the treated area to expand and some of the capillaries to burst, which reddens the skin.
Most modern cupping practitioners don’t use actual fire to heat the cups anymore, rather they use special machines to create a vacuum in the cup after it has been properly positioned on the patient’s skin.
These cups are generally left in place for approximately three minutes per session. Cup placement is decided by the therapist and the client’s ailments. Anywhere from three to sixteen cups may be used during the treatment.
What Is Cupping Used to Treat?
Cupping advocates will cite a number of disorders and ailments for which cupping may be beneficial. Some of these issues include:
- Relieves inflammation
- Breaks up and releases congestion
- Stretches muscles and connective tissue for mobility
- Pulls blood supply to the skin
- Helps reduce cellulite
- Helps with muscle and joint pain, stiffness and arthritis
- Strengthens the immune system
- Therapeutic for depression, anxiety, fever and stress
- Balances body’s pH, affecting overall health
- Stimulates the nervous system for faster recovery from pain and disease
- Allows more effective deep tissue work
Do You Want to Try Cupping?
If you are in the New Orleans area and wish to give cupping a try, there’s no better place to start than Earthsavers. Our highly trained cupping therapists can explain the technique in detail and perform cupping in an atmosphere that’s conducive to total relaxation and optimal results. Contact Earthsavers today to learn more about cupping or to schedule your cupping appointment!