Updated: Jan 16, 2021
What is cupping?
Cupping is an ancient therapeutic technique in which, glass or plastic cups are placed on areas of tension, typically on the back, neck and shoulder regions. Using flame or a small, manual pump, air is removed from inside the cups, creating suction against the skin. The cups are typically left in place for 5-10 minutes, or moved (“run”) along large muscle groups. The marks left by cupping (see Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Phelps) are painless and typically disappear in 7-10 days. And the more cupping you get, the less discoloration you experience.
How does it work?
Unlike massage which involves downward pressure, cupping employs inverse pressure, pulling metabolic waste products from the muscles into the superficial layers of the skin for easy disposal. It also gently lifts and corrects adhesions in the connective tissue between muscles (fascia), making muscles glide and contract more efficiently. The result is a lasting reduction in both tension and pain.
What does it feel like?
Medically speaking, cupping feels awesome.
While removing stagnant cellular debris, cupping simultaneously encourages fresh blood and oxygen into muscle tissue making it feel, well, normal! Our muscles do so much for us, the least we can do is return the favor.
What can it treat?
Cupping can treat any pain or tension in the back, neck and shoulders. (If you’ve got tension in your back, neck or shoulders, Congratulations! You’re human.) Cupping is also commonly used for respiratory disorders from a common cold to asthma.
Where should I get it?
Cupping therapy is now being offered in a variety of settings, including some massage clinics, physical therapists and most acupuncture clinics. The licensed acupuncturists at GoodMedizen have extensive knowledge of cupping theory and techniques as well as relevant medical contraindications (like chemotherapy and pregnancy). If you are wondering if you may benefit from cupping, ask your practitioner. Chances are, you can!