In recent years, large round bruises have become familiar sights on the backs and arms of prominent athletes. You may be wondering what the cause of these marks is and what purpose they serve. They are the evidence of a physical therapy practice called cupping, which has been around for thousands of years. As it gains popularity in the United States, you may be curious about how it can impact your health. In this article, we answer your questions about cupping therapy.
What is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping therapy is an ancient technique of physical therapy that is used to increase blood flow and decrease pain in your muscles. Some practitioners also believe that it removes toxins from the body. This practice was used in ancient Greece, Egypt and some middle eastern countries for thousands of years. It’s recently become more popular in the United States because of Olympic athletes who participate and display their cupping marks.
The therapy involves placing cups on the skin and removing the air from the cups using heat or suction. The negative space causes the skin to pull away from the body and fill the cup. Cupping increases blood flow to the cup’s area, relieving pain and promoting cell regeneration. Cupping therapy can help with the following conditions:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- High cholesterol
What are the types of cupping therapy?
There are four types of cupping therapy:
Wet cupping is a type of cupping that includes piercing the skin with a needle before or after the cupping therapy. Cupping therapists believe this draws out toxins from your body. The cupping practice draws blood into the area, and the needle or small incisions made to the same area release small amounts of blood, making the skin wet. The antibacterial ointment and bandages are applied to ensure safe cupping practice.
Dry cupping includes heat or suction and the placement of glass, ceramic, or plastic cups on your skin, but it doesn’t include piercing the skin. Dry cupping therapy can fall into a few different categories, like:
- Massage cupping: The therapist moves the cups around your skin to promote blood flow to different areas.
- Facial cupping: Therapists can use cups on the patient’s face to relieve acne.
- Water cupping: Water partially fills the cup before the therapist inverts it on the skin to assist with suction.
Cups are typically left on your skin for three minutes. A cupping session can include as few as three cups on your skin, but very rarely are more than seven cups applied to your skin in more than one session.
What are the benefits of cupping therapy?
Cupping therapists and athletes alike claim cupping therapy has several health benefits. Here are some of the benefits you may experience after a cupping therapy session:
Cupping improves circulation by directing the blood to specific areas of your body. Increased circulation can improve your overall health as well as speed up the healing process naturally occurring in your body. This can be important to help improve muscle soreness like tightness, back pain, and neck pain.
Cupping therapy can reduce anxiety by engaging your parasympathetic nervous system. As the cups are applied to your skin, the sensation engages your nerves like a massage. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for calming your body down after intense periods of stress. It can cause feelings of relaxation in your body when engaged during a cupping therapy session.
Reduced appearance of stretch marks and scars
Increased blood flow can help remove excess fluid from the skin, reducing the appearance of scars. Stretch marks are essentially scars where the skin has suddenly stretched. The cup doesn’t have to be directly applied to the scars for this benefit to occur.
Decrease the appearance of varicose veins
Varicose veins occur when blood is not moving effectively through veins, causing them to swell. Increasing blood circulation can help move the blood through the veins more effectively and bring oxygen back to the affected areas. The increased circulation decreases the appearance of these veins.
Cups applied to your back or chest can help break up excess fluid or congestion in your lungs and increase circulation increasing your overall health and immune system. Applying facial cups can also help improve sinuses. These practices can also help improve asthma symptoms.
What are the side effects of cupping therapy?
Cupping therapy Is generally safe but should always be conducted by a professional. The practice can have side effects you may want to know about before your look up nearby cupping therapists. The typical side effects include bruising and pain at the point of suction. If your cupping therapist uses heat as a source of suction, you may also experience some heat sensitivity. Depending on the skill or your therapist, you may experience burns on your skin. Wet cupping also carries infection risks if the equipment is not sterilized between usages. At Living Well Balanced, we have professional therapists who always ensure the health and safety of our clients.
The benefits of cupping are widely reported on by clients and practitioners alike. Still, studies show that some effects can be varied, as their direct relationship to the cupping process is not always clear. Your benefits may vary. Cupping is most effective as a part of a training and healing treatment plan. Talk with your doctors and physical therapists to determine how cupping benefits you.
At Living Well Balanced, we offer a wide range of fitness and physical health services from caring and experienced professionals. We provide physical and massage therapy in combination with holistic practices like cupping therapy to assist our clients in their health and wellness management. You can make an appointment with one of our physical therapists to learn how they can benefit your treatment plan for injury recovery or prevention and chronic pain. If you have any questions, you can always give us a call at 212-579-2858 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our blog for more information about alternative therapies.