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All About Cupping Therapy

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Back in 2016, Olympic athlete, Michael Phelps, showed off his cupping marks and introduced the world to a popular, alternative medicine called cupping therapy. Cupping therapy has been used for centuries to help release muscle tension, improve blood circulation, and decrease pain. Keep reading to learn more about cupping therapy and how it may be able to help you! 

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is a type of massage that uses cups to create suction on the skin. The suction uses negative pressure to decompress the layers of connective tissue (skin, muscle, fat, myofascial tissue) to draw blood flow, cellular debris, and toxins to the surface of the area where the cup is placed. The increased blood flow and detoxification can help to promote healing and reduce inflammation. 

Cupping therapy is often used as a treatment for pain, especially back pain. It can also be used to treat other conditions, such as neck and shoulder pain, anxiety, stress, headaches, muscle tightness, and fatigue. 

How Does Cupping Therapy Work?

At East West Wellness & Rehab, our certified cupping therapist, Dr. Duong, focuses primarily on three types of cupping therapy: silicone cupping, vacuum cupping, and fire cupping.

  • Silicone cups are used to perform massage cupping and dynamic cupping to help with myofascial decompression. 
  • Vacuum suction cups are used for sustained cupping, where the cups are left in place for 5-15 minutes before being removed. This style is great for getting deeper into the muscles to relieve muscle tightness.
  • Fire cupping can be used to perform both massage and sustained cupping. Fire is used to extinguish oxygen to create a suction in the glass cups. The weight of the glass cups adds an additional benefit for improving relaxation and stress.

All three types of cupping therapy work by increasing blood flow to the region. This increased blood flow can help to reduce pain and inflammation while stimulating healing. Additionally, the suction allows for cellular debris and toxins to be released and pulled to the surface, creating discoloration on the skin and allowing the lymphatic system to remove the waste products from the body. 

Are there side effects and what are the marks from cupping therapy?

Most people tolerate cupping therapy well with few or no side effects. The most common side effect is mild discoloration of the skin where the cups were placed. The discolorations are temporary and on average, resolve within a week. It is recommended to hydrate for the next 1-2 days after your session to clear out the marks quicker. Another common side effect is sensitivity or soreness following your session. Depending on the amount of suction used and muscle stagnation, soreness may be present for 2-3 days. 

Are You Ready To Try Cupping Therapy?

If you're interested in relieving your pain and muscle tightness, trying this traditional Chinese medicine practice may be worth considering. This type of therapy has been used for centuries all around the world, ranging from ancient Egypt to ancient China. It can be adjusted depending on your preference and the condition being treated. Most people tolerate this therapy well with few side effects; however, it's always important to speak with your healthcare provider or our certified cupping therapist before beginning any new treatment regime.

If you're interested in learning more, schedule a FREE virtual consultation with our certified cupping therapist today!

Kathy Duong
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