What is Cupping?
Cupping is a Chinese alternative medicine in which cups are applied to your skin to break up stagnant blood and a poor energy flow. There is wet and dry cupping. Dry cupping is just applying the cup to your skin, but with wet cupping, you are pricked with a needle before suction. Practitioners believe that by pricking your skin with a needle prior to cupping, you help release toxins from the body. Many of the photos we see of the cups used in cupping are glass cups. But they are not the only cups used. There are bamboo, silicone and plastic cups that are also used. In some instances, acupuncturists will insert a needle into an acupoints and then suction the cup over top of it.
While today the cupping is mostly created by using a rubber pump, many practitioners use flammable substances such as alcohol, herbs, or paper in a cup and they’ll set it on fire. While the fire is beginning to fade, the practitioner will place the cup upside down on your skin so that your skin will rise and redden. Your practitioner would either leave the cup stagnant, or they could use massage oils to move the cups around.
What are the Benefits of Cupping?
While the studies that have been done for cupping aren’t strong enough to prove beneficial, practitioners believe that cupping can:
- Calm your nervous system
- Provide relaxation
- Loosens restrictions in the tissues
- Improving blood flow
- Reduce inflammation
- Helps to optimize athletic performance
What is Cupping Used For?
Just as the benefits of cupping still need to be proved, research studies for conditions that cupping can be used to treat still need stronger studies to be completed to fully prove its effectiveness. According to the British Cupping Society, these are conditions that cupping can help treat:
- High blood pressure
- Anxiety / Depression
- Bronchial congestion
- Rheumatic diseases
- Skin problems
When You Should Avoid Cupping
Woman who are pregnant should not try cupping, along with people with blood pressure problems. If your skin is broken, irritated, or inflamed, you should avoid cupping in those areas. Children and older adults should also not participate in cupping. If you have any health conditions such as cancer, organ failure, blood disorders, or heart diseases, you should avoid cupping, as well.
As with most treatments, there are side effects. While you are expected to have bruises and marks after a treatment, this may sometimes cause a scar or burns. Other possible side effects are:
Make sure that after your cupping procedure your practitioner covers the areas with an ointment and bandages to prevent infection.
A Cupping Success Story
A woman, Jordan Shakeshaft, visited The Spa on Rodeo in Beverly Hills for cupping. Her practitioner was actually a massage therapist. She explained to Shakeshaft that it wouldn’t be painful and explained the different techniques of cupping. She chose the dynamic cupping, which is when the cups are suctioned but then they are moved around, dragged towards your lymphatic system. This helps to avoid the red circles that stagnant cupping leaves.
After her therapist suctioned the first cup on, Shakeshaft recalls it feeling odd, but not painful. She applied about 6 more and was sliding them around her back, which was oiled. After a bit of dynamic cupping, Shakeshaft asked her therapist to try a stagnant cup for the knot on her shoulder blade. Her left shoulder had the same amount of pain so she wanted to see if she felt a difference. She says her right shoulder seemed to move freely and felt much better, while her left arm was still in the same state of pain. Her back pain also felt a lot better. While she wasn’t sure if it was placebo or not, she is all for cupping.
Celebrities Who Love Cupping
Paltrow was seen in 2004 at an event with cupping marks all over her back.
In 2003, Aniston was seen with some cupping marks on her back at an event with then fiancé, Justin Theroux.
Kim Kardashian West
Kardashian shared on the app, Snapchat, that she was using cupping to help relieve neck pain.
At the 2016 Olympics, Phelps debuted cupping marks all over his body.
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