Have you ever heard of cupping? Wondered what those mysterious ‘bruises’ are on athletes like Michael Phelps? Well, here is a little more information and background on this therapeutic technique.
Cupping by definition is “the application of suction or vacuum to the skin.” The use of this negative pressure can be utilized to pull the superficial layers of skin, creating space between the tissue. This space allows old debris to come to the surface and is often referred to as interstitial debris. Cupping has been around for over 5000 years, with the earlier versions utilizing bamboo or animal horns. In early practice, cupping would be utilized to remove or ‘suction’ unwanted materials from the body whether to draw out sickness, pains, pathogenic substances or evil spirits.
Today’s modern cupping is now commonly utilized to help alleviate muscle tension, pain, headaches, myofascial adhesions or trigger points, as well as facilitate the production of collagen. The most common cups used in clinical practice are made of soft-rubber, silicone, or plastic and are utilized with a ‘pump gun.’
How Does It Work?
Cupping works on the physiological level of the body in the following ways:
What Can Cupping Do For You?
What to Expect with Cupping:
Depending on the application most suited for you, cupping can affect varying structures in the body including epithelial tissue (skin), connective tissues, muscular tissue, as well as nervous tissue. The effects of cupping can penetrate up to 2 – 4 inches into the body, allowing deeper and quicker results than traditional soft tissue techniques. Cups can stimulate superficial or surface circulation as well as desensitize superficial pain patterns. Unlike traditional massage, cups provide the ability to gently lift as opposed to press on already sensitive tissues, creating a more comfortable or pain-relieving experience.
Sometimes a bruised like appearance may occur that are referred to as “marks”. Unlike bruising, these marks are a response to interstitial debris being lifted to the surface. In the world of cupping, these marks are considered a bonus for this reason. While sensitivity occurs, marks are typically not painful to the touch and usually fade within a few days.
Interested in trying cupping? Contact us here at Suburban Orthopaedics and one of our Physical Therapists or Physical Therapist Assistants will be happy to discuss your treatment needs and determine if cupping can help you!