Cupping In a Nutshell:
The hype about Cupping is still relatively new, but the practice is actually quite ancient. A long practiced element of Chinese Medicine, Cupping is most easily described as a version of Deep Tissue Massage, in that the aim is to release tension, increase mobility, and assist in relieving pain and injury. It is opposite to DT Massage, however, in that the process involves creating a suction of the skin and fascial tissue that has become uncomfortably bound in areas of tension. Creating localized suction to these bothersome areas draws blood where it has become stagnant and gives the muscles room to settle into better alignment, having released the painful, improper tensioning created by misaligned posture and uneven muscle tone.
What To Expect
Most people are able to receive cupping and side effects are typically light with Cupping performed with a manual pump. The most common side effect associated with the practice is bruise-like suction marks, which can last for days to a couple of weeks, and are usually painless. The color of marking varies from red to purple, with the darkest, longest lasting marks showing the source(s) of high bodily tension. The more often cupping is received, the lighter the markings often become-a cool, visible signal that the body is repairing itself!
Cups can be moved over muscle bellies or left stationary, for up to 15 minutes. The suction can feel similar to a slight pinching sensation, but should not induce pain. As with other methods of bodywork, pain and/or discomfort isn't necessary for the session to be effective. It may, in fact, get in the way of allowing your body to fully relax, which is often the best way to have a highly effective session of bodywork. Your therapist should check in with you after placing cups, to assess your comfort and adjust, if needed. The cups can be partially released or more air can be removed to create more suction, depending on your needs.
Is Cupping More Effective than Massage?
You know how we sometimes say, "To each their own"? This is one of those things...Because each body varies so greatly, it is (unfortunately) impossible to say what will work for any one person specifically and most effectively. Often times, the greatest relief results from a combination of practices. Luckily, it is a service that has few contraindications and it can easily be catered to your comfort levels, so there's little reason not to give it a try for yourself!
* Cupping is contraindicated in cases of severe diseases, i.e. cardiac failure, renal failure, ascites due to hepato-cirrhosis and severe edema, as well as hemorrhagic diseases such as allergic pupura, hemophilia and leukemia, and clients with dermatosis, destruction of skin, or allergic dermatitis. Cupping should not be applied on the portion where hernia exists or has occurred in the past. For pregnant women, the lower abdomen, medial leg and lumbosacral region should be avoided.