06 Apr MASSAGE MONDAY – Cupping explained
Cupping therapy is often referred to as “fire cupping” because (as most cupping pictures will illustrate), the Chinese Medicine Practitioner needs a flame to complete the procedure. The Practitioner lights a cotton ball on a hemostat on fire, quickly inserts the flame into the glass cup for 2-3 seconds, reducing the amount of oxygen inside the cup, creating a vacuum effect. The Practitioner then removes the flame from the cup and gently places the cup onto the desired treatment area. The cup will firmly suction to the skin and muscle. A skilled Practitioner will be able to adjust the level of suction without needing to remove and reset the cup. The cups are either left static on the area for 8 – 15 minutes or are moved along the affected muscle or meridian pathway like a deep tissue massage using a technique known as “walking cups” or “dynamic cupping”.
Both walking and static cups are typically used on large, hairless, muscular areas of the body. Depending on the degree of suction, both styles of cupping can penetrate muscle tissue 100mm below the surface of the skin. Walking cupping, unlike static cupping, requires a base of oil applied to the treatment area before the cups are set to ensure smooth cup gliding. Despite the health benefits and how good cupping therapy feels many people are unsure of cupping because of the famous “bruises” the cups can leave.
The cups can leave discolourations but they are NOT bruises. Bruising is caused by trauma to blood vessels that cause blood to leak out of the vessels into tissues of the skin, that often leaves the area tender and painful. However, the discolouration formed by the vacuum effect of cupping therapy come from the pulling of trapped toxins, metabolic wastes and non-circulating stagnant blood from constricted tissues to the skin surface. Once at the skin surface, purple or red PAINLESS discolourations can form, but are flushed by the lymphatic system a few days post-treatment.
By pulling these toxins, metabolic waste products and stagnant fluids out and away from the injured or affected area, normal and healthy tissue circulation can be restored. As the cupping sessions progress, pain and discolouration will reduce as space is created for fresh blood circulation, oxygen, living cells, and nutrients to circulate freely.
By Mr Ryan Samuels – Whitecoat.