You may have heard of cupping. It is an ancient therapy used by the Egyptians, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures for thousands of years. It’s a technique to draw all the ﬂuids in an area to the surface, usually breaking some small blood vessels near the surface – hence the skin discoloration. It is a form of myofascial release professionals and therapists use as a tool to help aid muscle recovery and release fascial restrictions.
By: Dr. Shanele Lundahl, Chiropractor | Myo Medical
How does it work? Most commonly now you will be cupped with either a hard plastic or silicone cup; sometimes professionals (acupuncturists) will use glass cups. Depending on the cup, the person applying the cup either sucks the air out of the cup through a suction gun or releases the air from the cup prior to applying to the skin to get the proper depth desired. Static cupping – cups are applied to an area and left for a few minutes, this tends to bring on the most skin discoloration due to the breaking capillaries near the surface of the skin. Much like a bruise, you will see the body break down and remove the dead blood cells as the colors change from black > purple > green > yellow. With cupping comes new fresh blood and healing to the areas that were “damaged” microscopically. It’s like we’re directing the healing to the areas that we need, which is especially helpful for complaints that have moved into the chronic category.
What areas can you do cupping on? Cupping can be done all over the body, including the face. It is best to use over muscle bellies, but can be used over the spine and joint lines as well. Facial cupping can be beneﬁcial for symptoms of the head and neck, or also for improved circulation and lymph drainage.
Who would beneﬁt from cupping? Most individuals can beneﬁt from some form of cupping, when applied properly by a professional. Individuals that I tend to avoid cupping or am very cautious with are geriatric & prenatal clients. It’s still safe for both categories, but there can be other myofascial release techniques that can be used since the healing time is increased with both these categories.
How often should you do cupping? A safe practice is to not cup (the same area) again until the marks have completely disappeared & healed. Less is more when it comes to cupping, we don’t want to overload the body – just direct the healing to the correct area for maximum relief.
Why does cupping leave marks? Small blood vessels (capillaries) are breaking near the surface of the skin, therefore leaving dead blood cells for the body to break down and remove. Basically a bruise, which requires healing.
How long do the marks stay after a cupping session? Usually between 7-10 days.