Cupping 101 (What It Is, How it Works & Is It Right for You?)


Cupping. It’s been all around the information just lately, ever since a number of Olympic athletes (most notably, Michael Phelps) had been proven sporting darkish circles throughout their arms, backs, and shoulders. So what is that this supposed treatment, and most significantly, does it even actually work?

A Brief History of Cupping

Cupping is trendy now, but it’s not new. It’s really quite old-ancient, in fact. Cupping refers to an ancient Chinese practice that has its earliest “official” roots set in the lifetime of a famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (281-341 A.D.), who has the most well-known recorded mention of it. The method back then was a bit different-it used animal horns (not cups) to drain pus and blood from boils. For the Chinese, it became a method to dispel “stagnation” below the skin, such as stagnant blood and lymph, and improving the flow of energy throughout the body. In this sense, it is much like acupuncture.

It ought to be famous that some researchers imagine that it dates again even additional than its use in Asian cultures, all the way in which to historical Egyptians utilizing it in three,000 BC. Nonetheless others assume the traditional Greek’s had been the primary to make use of it.

When all is claimed and executed, no matter who used it first, cupping is an historical therapeutic treatment that took-like many elderly rememdies- some in style tradition to carry it again to life.

What’s Cupping?

The time period cupping remedy really refers to quite a few totally different strategies, however all of them share one frequent theme, and that’s vacuum, or suction, (also called “unfavourable stress”) is created within a cup pressed on the pores and skin. It’s totally different from therapeutic massage in that, relatively than the muscle tissues being pressed down, they’re pulled up.

Completely different strategies of cupping use totally different supplies, sizes, and forms of cups. For instance, some cups are bell formed, others spherical, some are glass, others plastic, and so forth.

There are ten forms of cupping remedy generally acknowledged amongst those that follow, however beneath three of essentially the most basic and practiced types.


Dry Cupping: Probably the most fundamental approach. Any flamable materials (normally a cotton ball soaked in alcohol, however herbs or paper are additionally generally used) is ignited and positioned into the cup. Because the flame goes out the cup is shortly positioned over the chosen space of the physique. The cooling air and lack of oxygen create a slight vacuum, pulling pores and skin, muscle, and fascia up into the cup. The cup will be left on for a spread of time, relying on the individual offering remedy and what you’re attempting to perform. Usually, the entire course of (from heating the cup to the elimination) is round 15 minutes.

Moist Cupping: The identical approach as dry cupping is concerned, and the cup left on for about three minutes. After the cup is eliminated a sterile lancet is used to make a small incision and one other cup is positioned over the incision, drawing out a small quantity of blood. That is thought to assist “purify” blood of poisons and previous blood/lymph.

Shifting/Stationary Cupping: The cups, whereas nonetheless forming a seal and vacuum, are slid over the muscle tissues in order that a number of areas will be handled. Stationary cupping is simply that-stationary. The cups should not moved.

Notice: To cut back the danger of burns and hearth hazard, and create highly effective suction, an increasing number of folks will use silicone or plastic cups with a hand pump to take away the air from the cup. This additionally permits for folks to make the most of cupping with out the necessity for a second individual.

What Is Cupping Used For?

Some declare it’s going to remedy colds, and arthritis. Others, significantly in the case of moist cupping, really feel it attracts toxins out of the blood. Personally, I put inventory in a single specific use, and that’s in treating musculoskeletal ache. Probably the most analysis lies on this topic, though analysis continues to be a bit spotty, and anecdotal proof is the first argument for cupping typically.

How Does It Work?

When the physique is present process a number of stress-whether it’s the rigorous coaching routine of an Olympic athlete, or the grueling hours of a jam-packed work week-muscles can get “tight.” Small set off factors of certain up muscle (additionally referred to as “knots”, though they technically should not) trigger ache and generally irritation as circulation turns into poorer and stress builds within the space. By pulling the muscle and the fascia (the skinny sheathe which surrounds organs and muscle) one can “break up” the tense muscle. The improved circulation from cupping can be thought to assist improve restoration time for strained muscle tissues and assist them heal if they’ve been overused. The thought right here is that the extra oxygen wealthy recent blood you will get circulating by an space, the faster it’s going to heal/operate optimally.


So… These Marks

The marks left by cupping should not bruises, per say. Bruises are attributable to blunt trauma to the pores and skin that trigger capillaries and blood vessels to burst beneath the floor. Cupping doesn’t contain any power that causes a bruise, as it’s usually outlined.

Those that follow cupping classify marks. The darker they’re, the extra “stagnant” your blood was and the poorer situation that space is in. The darkness reveals that the illness or underlying drawback situation has been pulled to the floor of the pores and skin and new blood can get beneath and supply recent circulation.

cupping bruise

If you’re wholesome and all is properly beneath the floor, the marks are supposedly solely going to be mild purple/pink and go away inside minutes.

There isn’t any stable analysis to again up what the colour of the marks imply, and personally, I really feel it’s merely that folks’s our bodies are all distinctive and react in several methods.

What Does Cupping Really feel Like?

It feels a bit unusual at first. Form of like a boring pinch because the suction is created, and then-especially in case you have a number of stationary cups-a bizarre weight over your muscle tissues that’s most noticeable should you transfer the muscle tissues the cups are positioned over. When you get used to the feeling, it actually isn’t unhealthy, and many individuals will discover aid as their tight muscle tissues are lifted and loosened up. Shifting cupping has all the time offered essentially the most aid for me.

Is It Proper For You?

I believe it’s value exploring all manners of different cures and therapeutic strategies, as all people has various things that work for them. Conventional therapeutic massage works higher for my tight muscle tissues than cupping, however I do know of people that expertise in another way. When it comes to it rising athletic efficiency, I can’t actually testify. At the next degree athletes might very properly discover a distinction of their performance-I don’t.

Personally I believe it’s best when utilized in conjuncture with one other conventional therapeutic methodology, resembling acupuncture. Additionally, when the locations the place the cups had been eliminated are briefly, gently, massaged afterwards.

For these reasons-and for the enjoyable atmosphere- I counsel going to a accountable follow to first get a really feel for the cupping expertise earlier than deciding to go for an at dwelling package.

“All That and a Bag of Cups”?

If you need my private opinion-when all is claimed and executed I nonetheless like my “old skool” massages finest. I believe that cupping can definitely be useful for various folks in several ways-but I’d counsel being cautious of going into it with unrealistic expectations. I believe expectations as a lot as outcomes could make different cures more durable to get to remain mainstream-especially once they’ve been caused by a lift in in style tradition.


Updated: May 18, 2019 — 5:28 pm

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