An ancient technique, cupping uses suction to open and expand tissues, rather than compress them, as in most massage techniques. By opening tissues in this way, cupping reduces muscle tension, releases accumulated waste products for the body to process, and calms the nervous system. While cupping can be the primary technique used in a full body massage, it is often most beneficially used in discrete areas as part of a session incorporating other techniques.

Brief History

Ancient cultures used hollowed out animal horns, bones, bamboo, nuts, seashells and gourds to purge bites, pustules, infections and skin lesions from the body. In China, extensive research has been carried out on cupping, and the practice is a mainstay of  Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The fundamental therapeutic value of cupping has been documented through several thousand years of clinical and subjective experience and has advanced its application to many areas.

What’s with the Dark Circles?

If you saw Michael Phelps during the Olympics, you probably saw the dark circles on his back and elsewhere that were the results of cupping. This cupping was done to help his muscles recover quickly from the physical exertion of competition. When cupping expands tissues, it enables them to release accumulated waste products for the body’s lymph system to remove. These waste products might cause discoloration at the surface of the skin. The discoloration is not a bruise, which is caused by broken capillaries resulting from impact trauma. Properly applied cupping does not break blood vessels. Discoloration from cupping typically goes away within a few days.

Benefits of Cupping

Cupping provides many of the benefits of massage therapy and other forms of bodywork, as well as some additional benefits that only suction can offer.

  • Reduces hypertonicity (tightness) in muscles
  • Releases scars and restricted fascia
  • Activates the secretion of synovial fluids to release joint stiffness
  • Promotes metabolism within skin tissue and muscles
  • Detoxifies through the release of stagnant blood/toxins/lymph
  • Reduces pain
  • Promotes lymph drainage
  • Reduces recovery time for athletes and post-surgery


Conditions Treated by Cupping

Cupping can be used, alone or in conjunction with massage and other bodywork, to effect positive change on a number of conditions, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma & Pneumonia
  • Athletic Stress & Injury
  • Bursitis, Tendonitis, & Plantar Fasciitis
  • Cellulite
  • Chronic Pain
  • Diabetes-related circulatory issues
  • Edema, Stagnant Lymph
  • Fibromyalgia
  • High Blood Pressure / Low Blood Pressure
  • Insomnia & Anxiety
  • Lung Inflammation & Congestion
  • Menopause symptoms
  • Migraine, Tension Heachaches, & Sinusitis
  • Muscular Aches
  • Neuralgia
  • Parkinson’s Disease symptoms
  • Poor Circulation
  • Pre- & Post-Operative Conditions
  • Scars & Adhesions
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
  • Sluggish Colon & IBS
  • TMJ Dysfunction
  • Toxicity

Possible After-Effects of Cupping

Because cupping works so deeply on tissues, it can produce short-term side effects that are the body’s response to the cupping treatment. These are quite normal and usually subside within a couple of days, if not sooner. Effects can be most intense after initial sessions and will reduce with subsequent sessions, as the body has eliminated waste products and become accustomed to cupping. Some of the possible after-effects include:

* need for sleep/insomnia/deep sleep      * vivid dreams/night sweats     * intense hunger/no appetite     * nausea/food cravings     * euphoria     * hang-over symptoms     * strong body odor     * increased bowel elimination/strong urine odor     * dry mouth/thirst     * heightened senses     * emotional release     * warm skin/chills     * restlessness     * post-exercise soreness     * headache     * feeling lighter/taller

As with any therapy you receive from me, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are concerned about your post-session experiences.

(source: ICTA)