Cupping therapy is an ancient practice that dates back to Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern culture. One of the oldest medical texts known to man, the Ebers Papyrus, details the procedures used by Egyptians in cupping therapy in 1,555 B.C. To say the least, cupping is anything but new. Today, this alternative practice is being used by professional athletes and others just like you and me.
Cupping therapy offers many health benefits, including pain management, decreased inflammation, increased blood flow, relaxation, and overall well-being. It is used to alleviate musculoskeletal pain, oftentimes caused by the physical manifestation of chronic stress. Other health problems can arise due to stagnant blood and poor energy flow throughout the body.
There are two different types of cupping therapy: Chinese cupping and myofascial cupping.
Chinese Cupping Therapy
During Chinese cupping massage therapy, oil will be applied to the skin. Then, glass containers are heated then applied to the skin to create a suction or vacuum. During this therapy, the containers stay in place to activate specific areas.
Myofascial Cupping Therapy
Myofascial cupping therapy uses a pump to remove air from the container once it’s been placed on the skin. Once a vacuum is created, the containers can then be moved along the body. The vacuum draws the skin up into the container and increases the blood flow to that specific area. There is a slight pulling or mild pinching feeling as the vacuum is created. The feeling is not painful, but patients will be aware of the cups as they are placed.
“When the containers are left in place, in Chinese cupping, this serves as a spot treatment and when the containers are moved along the body, in myofascial cupping, it helps to melt fascia, stretch muscles, and loosen adhesions. The #1 scientific benefit of cupping therapy is increased blood flow to the area being treated.” - Ray Portner, Battle Creek Therapies
How Does Cupping Work?
Few studies have been able to quantify the effects of cupping because it is difficult to test the placebo effect. A patient either receives a cupping treatment or they don’t — there is no way to administer a sugar pill (so to speak). Once a container is placed on the back with a vacuum, treatment is happening.
Even without peer-reviewed studies, cupping has increased in popularity, especially among athletes and other individuals who regularly overuse their muscles.
So let’s break it down: What exactly is happening inside your body when you experience a cupping treatment?
Increased Blood Flow
Our skin is well-vascularized, meaning it has a bountiful blood supply. As the skin is pulled up into the container, so too is the blood in the underlying capillaries. This occurs through the dilation of these capillaries which can lead them to rupture (causing the bruising and discoloration often seen on patients). It is known that increased blood flow can relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation.
Metabolic Waste Flushing
An increase in blood flow carries oxygen and nutrients to the injured area and helps to flush out any excess metabolic waste. This helps purge leftover substances that cannot be used by the body and are toxic — nitrogen compounds, water, carbon dioxide, phosphates, sulfates, and lactate — produced as a result of injury or strain.
Accumulated stagnant lactate in the muscles causes pain and fatigue. By increasing the movement of blood flow to this area, the body is able to flush out the stagnant waste more quickly and reduce symptoms of soreness, fatigue, and swelling.
In addition to increasing blood flow and flushing out the surplus toxic metabolic waste, cupping also creates a mild immune response within the body as blood is mobilized. The increase of blood flow through the body results in and promotes lymphatic circulation. This immune response occurs because as cupping improves circulation, the blood carries immune cells to the affected area to speed up the repair and recovery process and alleviate swelling.
Who is Cupping Therapy For?
From the above information, we can see that cupping therapy is a great option for those looking to expedite the healing process (especially for athletes who want to obtain quick recovery after a workout); however, cupping is also a beneficial therapy for non-athletes enduring chronic stress that is manifesting as physical musculoskeletal pain.
When chronic stress goes untreated, it begins to manifest in a physical manner. When under stress, we often tense our muscles, especially when we’re working on a phone or computer for extended periods of time on a regular basis. As such, muscle tension begins to develop and cause symptoms of physical pain. This pain can be managed and relieved through the process of cupping therapy.
Cupping therapy isn’t just for the athletically gifted, but can be a sensible and effective treatment accessible to the general public suffering from chronic unmanaged stress.
Are you ready to book your first appointment? Contact Ray at RayPortner@gmail.com from Battle Creek Therapies for your chance to experience cupping therapy and other massage therapies.
If you’re suffering from chronic stress, cupping is a great first step to alleviating pain, but it’s important to also begin looking for ways to manage stress in your day to day life. Yoga is a great daily practice to pick up to help with releasing tension from the body and finding peace and mindfulness in any situation. Head to the Full Circle Yoga studio schedule to find a class that works for you.
What’s your experience with managing chronic stress? Have you tried Cupping Therapy? If so, share your experience in the comments below.
Written By: @Marlo_Moments
Images Provided by Battle Creek Therapies