Cupping therapy is an excellent complement to massage therapy. One of the main benefits of cupping therapy is to aid circulation by removing blockages, such as inflammation. There are several different techniques for cupping, and the primary style used by massage therapists is dry cupping. Dry cupping is traditionally practiced by using fire cups. However, there are several different modern options such as silicone cups which do not require fire.
If using fire cups, the therapist will light a fire stick or a large cotton ball that has been soaked in alcohol. This fire is then circled in the glass cup to help eliminate air and create the suction needed to have the cup stick to the skin. The upward pull on the skin is what provides the relief to the muscles and promotes better circulation. This is often referred to as negative pressure meaning the pressure is caused by the skin being pulled up rather than positive pressure which is traditionally done in massage by applying pressure to the skin. Once an appropriate amount of time has passed, the therapist will remove the cups by gently pressing their finger under the side to release the suction. In areas where there is a significant blockage, it is common for a dark red or purple circle to remain on the skin. Sometimes these marks will disappear immediately after the practice, while others can last up to around 7 days.
Many people have been hesitant to try cupping due to the dark circles. While the marks look extremely painful, they are not. The cup will typically only affect the more superficial layers of the skin. The marks are the result of the capillaries bursting. This is similar to what happens with a bruise, but due to the location on the surface of the skin rather than deep in the muscle, it will not cause you pain. Yes, it does look scary but should never hurt. If you have a tender spot already in your muscle such as a trigger point, or pre-existing bruise, it could cause pain if the cup is placed on top of these points. Another instance that could cause pain is if the cups are left on for an excessive length of time. If left for longer than about 15 minutes, the suction of the cup can cause your skin to blister. This is why you should always work with someone who has had training in cupping therapy.
I have found when working with clients who have chronic pain in their muscles they prefer to have cupping done rather than receive a typical massage. This is because it can be irritating to have someone working around an area that is already experiencing high sensitivity. Rather than pushing down on these areas or their supporting muscles, the cups will lightly lift from the surface and provide relief.
If you have questions about cupping or are interested in experiencing its benefits first hand, call and book your appointment today 832-639-3090. To learn more about cupping, the history of this practice, and its benefits, please enjoy the quick clip I have put together at the top of this post.