We've all seen the cupping marks on our favorite athletes. Giant circular bruises that draw the question, what is cupping therapy and why are so many people using it? Follow along as we tell you exactly what cupping is, how it works, and why you should consider trying it at your next massage!
What is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping Therapy is an ancient therapeutic technique in which suction cups are used to decompress the skin and underlying tissue in order to reduce musculoskeletal pain and tension while increasing circulation. Cupping has it's roots in ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern medicine but has more recently seen a resurgence in western cultures. Cupping was brought to attention most notably by Micheal Phelps in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where giant circular bruises could be seen on his skin.
Cupping is often paired with other modalities such as massage or acupuncture but many times is done on it's own. Suction in the cups can be obtained via vacuum and sometimes even an open flame!
how Does CUpping Work?
What are cupping Bruises?
Cupping Therapy often leaves dark circles on the skin. These notable marks have helped bring awareness to the technique of therapeutic cupping but may also play a role in scaring away potential suitors due to concerns of pain or aesthetics. So what exactly are these marks and do they hurt?
Although cupping marks look like bruises they are not. Unlike bruises which form due to compressive trauma to underlying tissue, cupping markings are a result of suction pulling blood into the peripheral capillaries sometimes breaking them. Often times cupping marks can be darker and more pronounced in color when there has been more stagnation in the area, sometimes indicating injury. The markings can be accompanied by discomfort that resolves quickly but most people don't feel the markings at all! They can last anywhere from a few hours to a full week depending on the severity of the coloring. Needless to say cupping therapy is something you might want to avoid before a photoshoot or a wedding!
Miles G. CMT, CPT, FMS
Miles is a Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), Functional Movement Trainer (CPT) and owner of Milestones Movement Therapy in Davis CA. Miles and his team specialize in taking clients from pain to peak performance.