The first recorded uses of cupping therapy date back to Ancient Egypt. Even though these days its origins are attributed to the Chinese, they were not the sole users and inventors of this powerful application of suction cups to treat a wide range of ailments.
Most cultures all over the world have been utilising various hollow devices to create suction and treat a variety of maladies for thousands of years. Unfortunately, with the advancement of allopathic medicine, this therapy was largely forgotten by the West and is only now experiencing its revival.
What is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping is the use of hollow devices – made out of bamboo, glass, or silicone – which are applied to the body. Suction is created inside the cup either by sucking the air out with a special pump, by squeezing a flexible cup, or by using fire (for glass or bamboo cups). This suction causes the skin to rise, and this, in turn, brings the blood flow to the area.
Depending on the strength of the suction, there can be a lot of blood brought to the skin in the area. There is also a procedure where blood is drawn by cutting the skin, which leads to “blood-letting”, although it is not widely practised by natural health practitioners in the West. Although some may think it uncomfortable, most find it a pleasant experience that promotes the release of tension, even though the pull is felt well with strong suction.
Hot and Cold Cupping Therapy
Hot cupping normally involves a glass cupping set and use of fire – a spirit-soaked piece of cotton wool wrapped around a long wand is lit and inserted for a couple of moments into the cup. The cup is then applied very quickly onto the skin. Since the wand is inserted only for a second, the cup doesn’t heat up, but this creates a strong suction for the procedure. The cups are then left on the skin for 10-15 minutes.
Cold cupping involves a plastic cupping set with a pump that sucks the air out of the cup or just a hand that squeezes the cup, or a rubber ball on top of the cup.
Static and Dynamic Cupping Therapy
When cups are placed and left on the body for a certain period of time, it is called static cupping. The best cups to use for this would be glass ones, where a fire is used to create suction. This kind of cupping is best for localised problems, such as respiratory conditions and localised congestion. When cups are placed on the body and moved, this would be dynamic cupping (or cupping massage).
It is mostly performed with silicone vacuum cups which can be easily squeezed by hand. This procedure is most suitable where the whole body needs to be stimulated, and where a release of muscle tension is the main goal.
Moving a cup helps to separate lesions, and promotes the myofascial release. Also, cupping stimulates tissues and blood vessels as deep down as 4 inches. This means that it stimulates physiological changes on a very deep level.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
- Helps with respiratory conditions (e.g. asthma, bronchitis)
- Clears stagnant energy
- Promotes circulation
- Relieves tiredness, chronic fatigue
- Helps eliminate muscle and joint cramps and pain
- Promotes detoxification
- Helps with weight loss by stimulating metabolism
- Helps clear cellulite
- Rejuvenates ageing skin
- Provides relief for old injuries
- Promotes relaxation for the mind and body.
- Long-standing sports injuries.
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