Although it only recently became a more popular therapy, cupping therapy dates back as early as 1000 BC. Even with its long history, many don’t fully understand what it is and what the benefits are. From the view of a passerby, It may come across as more of a torture than a therapy given the strange marks it leaves, but the supposed healing powers are hard to overlook. In this article, we’ll review the ins and outs of cupping therapy so you’ll understand everything you need to know before scheduling your first session.
Though it has origins in ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Greek medicine, modern cupping therapy is a bit more advanced. The instruments we use today use a number of different methods to create suction. We have plastic cups that use an air suction system similar to a vacuum. There are also glass cups that utilize fire to suck the air out of the vessel and create suction on your skin. There are pros and cons to each, and obviously when dealing with fire, safety is a concern. Considering both methods achieve essentially the same result, you’re better off going the plastic “vacuum” route. Consider yourself lucky that most civilizations moved away from the old methods using bamboo and animal horns as cups.
So, what does this suction do? The idea is that you’ll place these cups over a pressure point or an area that has had a lot of pain recently. The suction acts to not only increase blood flow to the area, but also to break superficial blood vessels and act as a natural detoxification. These broken blood vessels are what cause the strange marks I mentioned earlier, but they disappear in time.Cupping is often combined with other therapies like needling and massage to increase the benefits. The list of conditions cupping is meant to help contains everything from scars, herniations, and migraines, to arthritis and much more. Not to sound like a bad infomercial - there’s just a lot of listed benefits to this therapy.
While the benefits are seemingly endless, there are times you should stay away from cupping. If you’re pregnant, have a fever, open wounds, bleeding disorders, inflammatory conditions, or if your blood sugar drops after therapy you should consider staying away until you discuss it further with your doctor. Suffice it to say, if you haven’t tried cupping therapy, you shouldn’t knock it until you try it. The list of benefits outweighs the potential downsides. I, for one, would rather use cupping as a way to eliminate my pains instead of popping some anti-inflammatory drug or pain med that will inevitably cause more (internal) harm than good.
If you’re still a bit hesitant to try cupping therapy, you may be better off starting with other recovery methods like massage or compression. Once you warm up to the idea, you could get as many sessions as you’d like here at Pursue Physical Therapy.