The most colorful language of the body happens through cupping, also known as decompression therapy.
According to the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, our health and well-being (immune system) rely totally on the movement of blood, negatively-charged frequencies (found in nature), and body fluids (hormones, lymphatic fluid, etc).
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that all pain is due to stagnation of one or all of these systems.
If this is true, in order to reverse pain you must reverse stagnation. Cupping does exactly that.
The Power of the Pull
In our society we are set on reversing the effects of gravity– via Botox, as an example– but with minimal, if any, benefit to our health.
In comparison, cupping also works against the pull of gravity, yet greatly adds to our overall well-being. In fact, there are almost 2,000 documented studies on the health benefits of cupping therapy on PubMed alone.
How Does It Work?
Cupping acts like a vacuum that draws stagnant blood, lymph and toxins to the surface to be purged through the skin, the largest organ of the body and one of our main pathways of detoxification. It directly works with the fascia, which is the internal “skin” of the body that holds everything together. Fascia wraps and surrounds every organ, muscle, etc. like a protective “web”. Sometimes, however, this fascia can adhere to the muscle, creating stiffness and tension that we feel in the muscle, but is actually rooted in this tight connective tissue. Unlike massage, cupping uses negative pressure via a powerful suction the cup creates to help peel off these layers. In turn, this preps the body for a more enhanced Deep Tissue massage.
The History of Cupping
Cupping is first mentioned in the famous Egyptian Papyrus E-bers (1550 BC)! In Greece, it was documented for the treatment of headaches, lack of appetite, maldigestion, fainting, abscess evacuation, narcolepsy, and others.
Qualified acupuncturists still utilize many ancient forms of cupping today. Two examples of these are wet and herbal cupping. Wet cupping is where the skin is punctured with an acupuncture needle and a cup is placed over the area to purge diseased blood. Herbal cupping utilizes bamboo cups that are boiled with specific herbs and applied to the skin.
Contrary to these, I offer simplified and safer adaptations, including movement and stationary, needle-free cupping through silicone cups.
What Does It Feel Like?
The initial sensation is hard to describe; it’s very unique! It can feel like a Deep Tissue massage in reverse, but should not be painful. It can be more sensitive in areas where there are more lymph nodes present– such as the inner thighs, chest, and upper arms– but the type of cup and suction can be changed based off this. The effects are instantly felt and noticeable even to the touch (rough, “bumpy” skin from lymphatic congestion is instantly replaced with smoother, toner skin!) and people report feeling lighter, less tense, and having better range of motion.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
The Circulatory and Lymphatic System
- promotes nourishing blood supply
- improves sluggish circulation
- encourages healthy bowel movements (studied to be as effective as a laxative in children with constipation)
- boosts lymphatic circulation and reconstruction of lymphatic vessels!
The Muscular and Skeletal System
- decreases chronic back pain and inflammation
- increases range of motion, particularly in the hips and knees
- stretches connective tissues post-workout
- loosens adhesions and spasms
- firms loss of skin elasticity
- helps with pre-surgery prepping and post-surgery recovery
- softens scar tissue
- aids in prevention of and may reduce cellulite
- tightens, smooths and tones skin tone
Who Should Not Receive Cupping?
The contraindications include:
- Blood disorders
- Broken skin
- Renal failure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Heart disease
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Fasting clients
- Clients on blood thinning medication
What About Cup Kisses?
Made newly famous by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, “cup kisses” are a result of stationary cupping, not movement cupping. They are a result of static blood, lymph, and toxins being moved from the deeper tissue to the surface. This creates a space for oxygen, living cells and nutrients to flood the affected area, encouraging faster recovery and healing from the inside out. Experience cupping without these marks and receive many of the same benefits when requesting movement cupping instead.
Four Fun Facts About Cup Kisses
- A common misconception is that the marks these cups leave on the body are bruises! Actually, bruises are a result of injury, hurt to the touch, and fade to green or blue. In contrast, cupping marks are a result of purged blood stagnation, generally never hurt to the touch (you probably won’t even know they’re there!) and fade naturally, anywhere from a dark purple to a light pink, and then back to its original skin color.
- The DARKER the cup mark the more STAGNANT the blood is in that area.
- Cupping marks that are consistently dark in color may be from a toxic home and/or work environment, old injuries or trauma, a sedentary lifestyle, or an unhealthy diet.
- These colorful markings are a literal bodymap to help you identify where you are experiencing the most dysfunction, inflammation, toxicity, etc.!
Ready to give cupping a try?! Book an Integrated, Lymphatic Drainage, or Deep Tissue session with Kelly or Rebekah to experience its powerful benefits!