Cupping Therapy

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping on Client

Cupping on Client

Cupping is the application of glass cups on the surface of the skin. Through the use of a flame, a vacuum is created causing the skin to be sucked up into the cup. Cups are left in place for several minutes to ½ hour. They can be left in place or moved along the skin. This is called running cupping. I use a Chinese salve (Springwind Amber Massage Salve) that moves blood and nourishes the skin to help the cups move and potentiate the treatment.

How Does Cupping Work?

The suction between the cup and the skin causes the muscle and skin to separate slightly. This allows for cellular waste products in the muscles and fascia to be drawn towards the skin. This helps the knots and tension in the muscles to release.

In Chinese medicine the technique resolves the exterior by drawing the pathogenic factors out of the muscles into the skin where it is more easily expelled by the body. The circular dark red or purple blotches that appear on the skin are the stagnation and pathogens being released. These dark spots can take several days to dissipate, but they are painless.  If you are going to a party, you might not want to wear a backless dress!

When would you suck up your skin?

Cupping for muscle tension

Cupping for muscle tension

Because cupping draws pathogenic factors to the surface, it is often used for treating colds and the flu. One of the cardinal signs of coming down with a cold is a stiff neck and aching upper back muscles. This is where your Wei Qi or defensive qi is fighting to keep the pathogen from entering deeper levels of your body. Your grandmother was right when she told you to wear a scarf and stay out of drafts. The pathogens Wind and Cold enter the back of your neck!

Cupping is also useful for muscular tension and pain. It can treat a minor sprain to pull stagnated blood from muscles to the surface. I have a client who works on a computer all day. She comes in for a cupping treatment to release the tension between her shoulder blades.