Although the practice of cupping has been around for many years, it gained popularity during the summer Olympics and has continued to grow as word gets out that it works!
What is cupping?
Using glass, plastic or silicon cups placed strategically on the body a vacuum is created by using either a pump, by manually pressing or the traditional way of inserting a cotton ball set on fire into the cup and quickly removing it and placing the cup on the body. Each of these techniques serve differently to treat a varying array of ailments, but all of them work on the principal of creating a vacuum which pulls up the skin and the fluids beneath.
Does it work?
There has been thousands of years of documented evidence through clinical and historical research that cupping is safe and effective. You would be hard-pressed to find western scientific studies, due to the nature of cupping. In a truly scientific study, you need a placebo and preferably the gold standard of a blind study. It is impossible to do placebo cupping. You are either receiving cupping treatment or not and if you are receiving it, you will know. Despite the inability to have that kind of research, the detailed history and documentation speaks for itself.
How does it work?
It works utilizing the affects of negative pressure. Massage involves compressing, whereas the vacuum action of cupping lifts instead of pushes, which can beneficially add to the massage treatment in a myriad of ways that we will be discussing in this article.
What are the benefits?
Enough can’t be said about the importance of circulation. Circulation brings life to the body and stagnation is the enemy of it. Cupping lifts connective tissue and brings blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles. If cupping did nothing else, the benefits of the increased circulation would be worth it all! Fortunately there are many more benefits to cupping:
- Myofascial Release (look for an upcoming article for detail information on this!)
- Lymphatic stimulation and drainage
- Releases rigid soft tissue
- Detox – drains excess fluid and toxins
- Loosens adhesions (often referred to as knots)
- Releases synovial fluids which helps alleviate joint discomfort
- Contributes to quicker recovery for athletes of all types
- Diminishes appearance of cellulite
- Sciatica relief
- And more!
The discoloration that often appears after cupping is actually not bruising at all. The vacuum created during the treatment pulls stagnant blood and sticky fluids out of tissues and brings it to the skin level. This makes it more accessible to the body’s circulatory and lymphatic systems where it can be flushed out. As the stagnant fluids are released, fresh, revitalized blood full of oxygen and living cells replaces it bringing nutrients and new life to the area. The stagnant fluids brought up to the skin is the discoloration that is seen. The more stagnant fluids that have built up over time, the more prominent the discoloration will be. After several treatments this will be lessened. It usually takes a few hours up to a couple of weeks for them to disappear. The length of time for the marks to dissipate depends on the condition of the tissues, how long the cups are left on and the post treatment behaviors such as adequate hydration.
The importance of stimulating the lymphatic system
This system carries lymph – fluids in the tissues and transports infection fighting cells, removes foreign matter, cell debris and is a major component of the immune system. There isn’t a pump in this system, so travel depends on the motions of the muscles. Lymph massage and cupping can help the process along and speed up the desired results of filtering out organisms that cause disease, producing white blood cells and generating antibodies. The fluids must pass through at least one of the approximately 600 lymph nodes found in the body before advancing to the heart and re-entry into the circulation. Lymphatic health is vital and there are several lifestyle adaptions that you can adopt to maximize it’s efficiency:
- Stay hydrated with the appropriate healthy amount of water.
- Proper nutrition
- Regular exercise
- Avoid pollutants, toxic substances and unhealthy environments.
- Manage stress
Many athletes are turning to cupping treatments to help speed their recovery and get back to the sports they love. Why is this so? It helps them maintain their optimal performance by flushing out the toxins that they come in contact with, speeding healing of injuries and managing chronic conditions that would impede their activities. Loosing their fascia, myofascial release and increased circulation helps their muscles perform their best! Cupping is the optimal therapy to work on the surface to reach deeper layers to draw out unwanted agents, while at the same time improving the condition of muscle tissue.
Several of our therapist are certified cupping practitioners, but not all of us are, so be sure to mention it when you call or note it if you schedule online and we’ll book you with the right therapist that can perform this treatment for you.
There are many different types of cupping therapy including facial, detox and cellulite treatments that we will be discussing in our next blog. Until then cup on!
We are located inside the beautiful San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club.
Our rooms overlook the pool area.
Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, showers & robes are available.
San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club
4848 Tecolote Rd. San Diego, Ca