Cupping therapy is an ancient practice which uses suction to draw toxins out of the body, improve circulation and restore the flow of your Qi, your body’s life force. In ancient times it was used to treat a range of ailments from fever to gout to arthritis. These days, cupping therapy is used by many people, including professional athletes and celebrities like Michael Phelps and Jennifer Aniston to relieve tense muscles, boost immunity and alleviate pain.
How does cupping therapy work, and how can you experience cupping therapy benefits?
How Does Cupping Work?
There are two forms of cupping therapy: wet cupping and dry cupping. During the dry cupping therapy session, your massage practitioner heats cups using a flammable substance such as alcohol, then applies the warm cups to your body. The cups are placed along the major acupressure points for 5-10 minutes depending on the condition that needs to be addressed.
Cups can be made from glass, bamboo or ceramic. Once the cups begin to cool, it creates a vacuum inside the cup which forces the soft tissue into the cup. The suction causes your blood vessels to dilate and draws blood to the surface of the body.
Wet cupping therapy is similar; however, after the initial cupping session, the practitioner makes a small incision in the center of the cup marks then reapply the cups to draw a small amount of blood out of the incision. This is said to draw out toxins and bad blood to cleanse the body and restore proper function.
What are the Benefits of Cupping Therapy?
Cupping therapy benefits can help improve your health and well-being. Some of these benefits include:
Localised inflammation can cause swelling and increase pain. Cupping can reduce inflammation by boosting blood flow to the area and flooding immune cells to the affected area, which speeds up healing and eliminates inflammation. The cupping action also stimulates the production of M2 macrophages, which are white blood cells that are responsible for healing, and produce anti-inflammatory substances called cytokines.
Cupping can help to stimulate the release of endorphins targeted at specific points in the body to help alleviate pain. It can also help to relieve pain due to tension in the musculoskeletal system by releasing fascia and connective tissue and decompressing the spine. Cupping therapy also induces a state of deep relaxation to allow the body to heal itself.
Studies suggest that cupping therapy can relieve chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia which is typically challenging to address. Other research indicates that cupping can alleviate pain associated with herpes zoster, also known as shingles.
Cupping therapy can help athletes recover faster from intense workouts and relieve tired muscles after a competition. Cupping improves blood flow to the muscles, flooding them with nutrients to heal microtears that occur during a workout. This increased circulation also helps to reduce the level of lactic acid build-up in the tissue to minimise muscle soreness.
Removal of Toxins
Natural and environmental toxins can become trapped in the body’s tissues, causing a host of negative health issues.
Cupping increases circulation in the major blood vessels as well as microvessels inside these tissues to eliminate toxins from the affected area and improve the quality of the blood remaining in the body.
The suction action of cupping causes minor bruising to the surface of the skin, which elicits an immune response from the body. This immune response releases an enzyme called HO-1 which is the catalyst for several immune functions. These functions release natural substances, including bilirubin and iron, in the body which have antioxidant properties to boost your overall immunity.
Non-invasive Healing Technique
Unlike many other Western medical techniques, cupping therapy encourages your body to heal itself by unblocking Qi channels, improving lymph and blood flow, and activating the body’s natural healing mechanisms. This non-invasive method of healing means that there are very few side effects.
What to Expect After Cupping
Due to the suction created by the cup, expect your skin to appear red or bruised for a few days after treatment. This is temporary and should resolve after 7-10 days.
If you receive wet cupping therapy, you may experience some lightheadedness so to drink plenty of water after treatment and make sure to care for the wounds properly with disinfectant solution and frequent dressing changes to prevent infection.
Cupping Therapy at Wayne Massage
At Wayne Massage, we use cupping therapy to complement our other massage and acupuncture services to enhance the therapeutic effects. Cupping therapy is used to treat a range of conditions from the common cold and respiratory problems to musculoskeletal issues and skin conditions. Contact Wayne Massage today at one of our Sydney locations to experience the cupping therapy benefits for yourself.