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What is Cupping?

Cupping has been practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over 3,000 years and is regularly used in over 60 countries. Cupping has a vacuum like effect which decompresses the muscle and fascia and brings nutrients, new blood and fluids into the area, while simultaneously drawing out waste products and what Acupuncturists refer to as stagnant blood and fluid. The tissue underneath the cup, instead of having less space between the fibers, is now more expansive which allows for greater movement of blood to the muscle tissue. This results in a better nourished tissue.

Types of Cupping?

Glass suction or silicone cups may be used at Carolina Acupuncture & Massage. Cups can be placed in a stationery fashion and are set to target and release the muscle and fascia of the body. Alternatively, with the application of lotion onto the skin, Mary may slide cups along the tissue and work a larger area of the body (slide cupping).

What to Expect During a Cupping Treatment

The method of treatment will depend on the presenting concern or condition being addressed. Slide Cupping , Flash Cupping (short duration placement and removal of cups) or Stationery Cupping (placing the cups in a particular area for 5-10 minutes) may be performed during treatment.

Is Cupping Painful?

As a general rule, Cupping is relatively painless and tends to feel relaxing. The area that has been cupped will often feel more comfortable, looser and less restricted than prior to being cupped. Cupping is considered to be generally safe for healthy people when performed by a trained and skilled practitioner. Burns can occur when using a flame to provide suction. At Carolina Acupuncture & Massage only glass suction or silicone cups are used, which eliminates this risk. Hand vacuum pumps allow the therapist greater control over the level of suction and do not expose the patient to the risk of open flames or skin burns.

What are the Circular Cupping Marks?

Although cupping marks may look like bruises, they are quite different. Bruises result from an injury to the soft tissue, usually in the form of trauma, where blood vessels are broken and the tissue becomes damaged. When there is a bruise, there is often bleeding into the tissue which is not considered healthy. A cupping mark is not a bruise as there is no injury to the soft tissue, it is not painful to the touch and will simply will fade away over time. Cupping marks can be purple, purple brown, a light blue and sometimes there is very little color. Each cupping mark tells you about the underlying condition of the tissue.

Not everyone gets cupping marks. The only time marks appear is if there are tight restricted areas with a buildup of what an Acupuncturists will often refer to as stagnant fluid and blood. You are not going to get marks on healthy tissue, that is, tissue that is open to the exchange of fluid, blood, gases and all the other normal cellular processes. 

The cupping marks generally fade away within 3-7 days; sometimes it takes longer. If there are areas you do not want cupped, due to an upcoming social engagement, please advise your therapist.

Uses of Cupping?

Cupping can be used for a myriad of conditions ranging from generalized musculoskeletal concerns, joint pain, tight muscles, areas with trigger points (knots). Cupping can be beneficial for athletes, and for individuals who spend hours in front of the keyboard or have postural imbalances. Cupping can help alleviate headaches, migraines, improve digestive problems and skin disorders. Cupping reduces restrictions, adhesions and softens scar tissue and therefore is useful for the treatment of scars (surgical, c-sections, injury, trauma)  Used correctly, cupping can also be helpful for menstrual pain, acute and chronic coughs, early stages of the common cold and generalized body aches.

Cupping Cautions

The current research indicates that cupping can be a very safe and powerful approach. Nevertheless, cupping should not be performed on individuals with particular underlying and serious health conditions, existing bruising or skin infections. Cupping should never be replaced for conventional treatment or standard medical care from your General Physician.

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