What’s The Deal With Dry Cupping?

March 28, 2019

We’ve all seen that person who shows up with a circular hickey-like bruise on their body. I remember witnessing this for the first time and thinking “What the heck is that?! And why would anybody do that to themselves?!” Or even, “What happened to that person?!” Well guess what? You were witness to someone who just had cupping.

Believe it or not, they are not crazy, nobody injured them, the treatment is actually incredibly relaxing, and the benefits are amazing! From helping to relieve back/neck pains, loosening stiff muscles, and even helps to promote relaxation (good for anxiety, fatigue, migraines, and rheumatism) this type of treatment is something that everyone can benefit from.

Cupping is a body treatment that involves creating suction on the skin using glasses, or plastic cups. It is most definitely a very trendy thing these days; however, the reality is that it is not new at all. It dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. During that time, they discovered that by placing a cup on the surface of the skin, then subsequently using a suction device to remove the oxygen, that they could create a negative pressure inside the cup. This is why cupping results in elevation of the skin into the signature dome-like appearance inside the cup. The benefits they uncovered, and that we are now just experiencing, are beyond what you would imagine. They include: 

  • Creating a mild immune response and increasing anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body by mobilizing blood flow to the skin. Since the same reaction takes place during muscle recovery, cupping results in a faster and more efficient healing process.
  • Improving blood circulation to the tissues by drawing stagnant blood to the surface. This speeds up and helps with the recovery of the treated muscle.
  • Stretching tight muscles and the surrounding fascia, resulting in looser muscles, decreased pain, and improved mobility.

Whether you are suffering from pain, discomfort, or immobility, or you are a gym goer or an experienced athlete, cupping is a fantastic way to improve the quality of your movement and return to your daily activities significantly faster.

When it comes to negative side effects of cupping, there are a few things to keep in mind. The most apparent side effects are the odd circular bruises often left behind following the treatment. Although this is completely normal and will dissipate very quickly (often within a couple of days), you might not want to schedule a treatment then head to the beach right after! It is also normal to feel stiff and tender in the areas the cups were applied. Just as with the bruising, these symptoms do not last long either and are normally resolved within a day or two. Ultimately, the negative side effects are incredibly minor and most definitely do not outweigh the benefits.

Although there are multiple types of cupping that exist, such as wet cupping, fixed cupping, moving cupping, and fire cupping, the focus for my treatments revolves around air cupping, or dry cupping.

Dry cupping uses a specially designed pump that attaches to the end of the cup and creates suction when applied to the skin. Dry cupping includes both fixed and moving. Determining which of these to use depends entirely on the focus of the treatment. Fixed cupping is where the cups remain in place throughout the treatment, and are normally left in place from anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Moving cupping (also known as gliding cupping) is where the cups are moved during the treatment to massage the muscles. To do this I use oil on the skin to allow the cups to move easily without any uncomfortable friction. Now that we understand what cupping is and how it works, let’s talk a little bit more about the benefits.


Pain Reduction

Cupping in general, but particularly moving cupping, has similar effects to a massage and is beneficial in relieving muscular pain. As mentioned previously, the combination of triggering an inflammatory response, increased blood flow, and stretching of the muscles works 3-fold to not only relax tight muscles, but to promote better overall muscle health. Therefore, the ultimate outcome results in decreased pain associated with improved mobility. Another very interesting fact is that practitioners even use cupping to help treat fibromyalgia.

Releases Muscle Tension

We have all been subjected to the VERY uncomfortable experience of having tight, knotted muscles. Through the process of stretching both the muscle fibers and the surrounding fascia, cupping actually softens muscle tissue. Through this process, there is significant relief in muscle knots and tension. While there are always exceptions to the rule, cupping usually targets muscle groups that are prone to tightness. These include hamstrings, adductors, and the back and shoulder muscles. So as opposed to going through the self-inflicted torture of using the foam roller (and we have all been there!), you will have one of the most relaxing experiences with incredibly effective, and often better results.  Therefore, not only will your muscles be looser and more flexible at the end of your treatment, but you will also find yourself on cloud nine. Win win!

Improves digestion/relieves digestive disorders

Given the increasing interest and popularity in this treatment, research continues to expand on the overall benefits it provides. One of the more recent discoveries includes improving digestion. Studies are showing that the overall relaxation experienced by the body also results in improved digestion. Theories say that the stress, anxiety, and muscle tension that we carry with us on a daily basis can actually lead to congestion and stagnation in the digestive system. Therefore, as the body and mind relax during this treatment, the thought is that it releases this stagnation to help increase digestion. As mentioned, this research is still in the beginning stages and there is a need for more, but the initial results are looking extremely positive.

As you can see, the Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures were well ahead of the game when it comes to benefiting from cupping. Luckily, we are now in a position to share these benefits nationwide. Without a doubt, cupping will be around for an incredibly long time, and I hope that you now have a better understanding of not only what it is, but also how it works and how it can benefit you to improve your every day quality of life!

Posted in Uncategorized by Pat Moore