Cupping therapy has been used since ancient times, medical textbooks from Egyptian times describe using cupping. Cupping and acupuncture have been extensively used as ancient and traditional forms of medicine in China. The Chinese believe cupping releases vital energy that is stagnant throughout the body and allows this energy or our qi (chi) to flow through us and into the world.
Cupping stretches and contracts the skin which increases blood flow. There are two types of cupping, dry and wet. For both types your therapist will create a vacuum within the cup and place the cup upside down on your skin. Your skin will rise and redden, this reaction is typical as the blood vessels expand. The therapist will leave the cup in place for 3 to 20 minutes. A modern version of cupping uses a pump, traditional cupping therapy uses a flame and sometimes herbs. Cupping therapy has been used in conjunction with acupuncture.
Cupping therapy is used for a wide variety of reasons. In Western cultures cupping therapy is regularly used to stimulate blood flow, accelerate healing of bruises and injuries and relaxation. Elite athletes such as Michael Phelps have been seen with cupping marks, cupping increases blood flow, increasing blood flow helps with healing and recovery. Athletes who are uninjured can use cupping to recover faster from a rigorous workout.
Cupping therapy can be used for carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, and fibromyalgia. Cupping does cause marks on the skin, as the therapy brings blood to the surface. Anyone with a bleeding disorder or is being treated with prescription anticoagulants should talk to their physician. Patients with open wounds or infections should not use cupping as a therapy until they are healed. The cupping marks can last up for a few days to possibly two weeks. Marks and cupping bruises will decrease if a patient engages in a regular cupping protocol. This is the result of successful cupping.