(By Geordan Kania, LMT) You may have heard the words "cupping therapy," and perhaps even seen the marks that are left behind after a session, but what is cupping therapy really?
Cupping is an ancient technique that has been used by many different cultures around the globe for thousands of years. In history, animal horns, bamboo, clay, glass, and metal have all been used to create some form of what we call a cup. (Today we use glass or plastic.)
Cups are applied to the skin and suction is created inside of the cup, using a variety of methods such as oral suction (in ancient times), fire, or a manual pump. This suction forms a vacuum inside of the cup drawing the skin and underlying tissues upward.
This vacuum encourages the separation of tissue that is "stuck," fused, or otherwise tense. While the tissues are separated from the suction, vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) occurs offering hydration and nutrients to these areas that would otherwise usually be restricted.
Cupping's other great benefit lies in its ability to promote an increase in circulation of blood and lymph and promote the exchange of fluids throughout the body. Stagnant, unwanted debris (old blood, medications, waste substances), and toxins are drawn out from the soft tissue, and fresh oxygen and nutrients are allowed in.
The marks that appear from cupping are a result of this fluid exchange and can often tell us about what is going on in the tissue below. Darker marks can be indicative of very chronic stagnation, while pale marks can suggest poor circulation.
With this exchange of fluids happening, your body takes water and fluids from surrounding areas to hydrate the tissue that cupping was applied to. That’s why hydration is very important when receiving cupping treatments. We must replenish the internal source of water for our tissues and cells!
As versatile and beneficial as it is, cupping is not for everyone, and there are a few contraindications for health professionals to be aware of. Communication, properly filling out your intake, and updating your practitioner of any new conditions is key to getting the most out of your visit.
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