We get asked this question a lot in clinic.
Cupping works almost like a massage… but in reverse. However instead of pushing down on the muscle, the glass cup pulls the muscle up (with suction).
Most people really like the sensation of cupping. It feels like a combination of heavy pressure, some tightness and suction at the same time.
We usually use cupping when people come in with a sore back, neck or tight shoulders. But cupping can be used for other ailments, like coughing or asthma, or when people feel like they’re about to get sick/coming down with a cold. Cupping can be used practically anywhere on the body that has a nice smooth-ish/flat surface with not too many bony bits.
Cups come in a variety of sizes to suit different body types and body parts.
Cups are available in different forms eg bamboo, plastic (with a valve like pump), or glass. We use the glass ones here at our clinic.
Cupping works with suction.
To create suction in the glass cups, we use a flame. We light a cotton ball that has been soaked in methylated spirits, tightly held in forcep pliers. We insert that flame into the glass cup for a second or two, then quickly take it out while the cup is quickly placed onto the patient. For those not familiar with cupping, it’s important to realise that the cup itself isn’t hot. The flame is used as a means to take the oxygen out of the inside of the cup. The suction is like a vacuum, and the strength of the suction depends on the skill of the practitioner as to how quickly you can get the cup onto the patient after taking the flame out.
The aim of cupping (particularly if we are using it for muscle aches and pains) is to help stimulate better circulation of blood through muscular tissue to further speed up healing, or release tightness.
The cupping helps to draw up any blood that hasn’t been moving well through that tissue. New blood can then be circulated in its place. Cupping will often, but not always, leave some form of circular marks.
and they don’t hurt when touched (unlike a bruise). The marks can vary in colour. The darker the mark is usually a sign that that part of the muscle has had the least amount of blood flow. The marks usually take a few days to fade. The darker the mark, the longer it takes to fade.
If you plan on going to the beach, or going out and wearing something strapless, people will notice your marks and they will usually comment “Oh, you’ve had cupping done! I’ve always wanted to get it done. Does it hurt?” To which you answer “No! Cupping’s great!”
We generally use a combination of acupuncture and cupping to help relieve muscle aches and pains. The cups are usually left on the patient for only a couple of minutes. After cupping we apply either the ROWO herbal sports gel, Woodlock liniment or Red flower oil, and then a nice, warm, heat pack to finish off the treatment.
Please contact us if you would like more info, or to book an appointment.