Cupping Massage: An Overview, What to Expect, and Handy Tips
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of holistic medicine that is believed to have originated in China, and was also practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece, and the Middle East, as well as throughout Europe. In the mid-20the century, proponents of natural health techniques began practicing and advocating cupping therapy, too.
While it most certainly isn’t new, it wasn’t until recently that cupping became mainstream when athletes started showing up with reddish-purplish circular marks on their backs and shoulders – most notably, swimmer Michael Phelps during the 2016 Olympics. The public at large, of course, took notice of those telltale marks, and cupping became a huge trend; and for good reason, as there are ample cupping benefits.
Have your friends been a-buzz about their cupping therapy experiences? Have you been seeing the celebrities and athletes you follow on social media posting about their back cupping sessions? Do you keep seeing articles that pertain to cupping in your favorite health, fitness, and wellness magazines? Are fellow gym-goers sporting those telltale circular marks on their backs, shoulders, thighs, and/or arms? Are you simply looking for a way to support your health, alleviate aches and pains, and boost your mood naturally? Whatever the case may be, if you’re interested in giving cupping therapy a try, there’s no doubt that you have some questions. To prepare yourself, keep on reading to learn more about cupping therapy, including the benefits, how it works, and what to expect during a cupping massage session.
Before we dive into how cupping works and the benefits this type of therapy provides, let’s take a look at the benefits this ancient holistic health and wellness practice provides. Here’s a brief overview of some of the conditions and ailments that cupping therapy can be used to treat:
- Arthritis, including rheumatoid
- Chronic and short-term pain, including shoulder, back, neck, knee, and more
- Breathing conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic headaches, including migraines
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Gastrointestinal issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Sleep disturbances
- Anxiety and depression
Cupping can also strengthen the immune system and promote faster healing and recovery from various types of illnesses, such as colds, flus, pneumonia, and more.
How does cupping work?
Cupping involves placing heated cups – which are most commonly made of glass, but can also be made of bamboo, ceramic, and even metal – onto strategic points on the body; the back, neck, shoulders, or behind the knees, for example. A flammable substance or material, such as essential oils or paper, will be placed inside the cups, will be ignited to heat the interior of the cup, and the flame will be extinguished and the cups will be applied to the skin. Once the heated cups are positioned in place, as they start to cool, a suction-like effect will occur, and your skin and the underlying connective tissues and muscles (fascia) will be drawn up into the cups.
The force of the suction expands and bursts capillaries (tiny blood vessels) underneath the skin. Your body sees this as an injury, and will respond the way same way it does when you sustain an injury; it will direct more blood to the treated area in order to stimulate the natural healing process. Cupping also releases toxic fluids that become trapped in the muscles and tissues, and those toxins are then flushed out through your lymphatic system.
What to expect during a cupping therapy session
Now that we’ve gone over some cupping benefit and what this type of therapy does, if you’ve schedule an appointment for cupping massage near me, you’re probably wondering what to expect during your session. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect to happen.
- You’ll enter a dimly-lit room, where soft music may be playing and aromatherapy may be used
- You’ll be asked to undress and will lie down on a table, just like you would during a traditional massage. You can keep your undergarments on and a blanket will be provided to maintain privacy
- After a few minutes, the therapist will knock on the door to see if you’re ready to begin
- The therapist will inquire about any areas of concern to determine where the cups should be applied; your lower back, shoulders, or even cupping of the optic disc, for example
- Massage oil will be applied to the pinpointed areas
- The therapist will prepare the cups and will then apply them to your skin
- Your therapist will ask if the pressure is acceptable, as the suction can be very strong. If you feel that it’s too strong, don’t be afraid to speak up, as the therapist will be able to make adjustments in order to release some of the pressure and to improve your comfort level.
- Depending on the type of cupping therapy you’re having, the cups will either be left in place or the therapist may move them around to massage the area
- The length of time the cups will be left on your skin varies, but on average, between 15 and 30 minutes, but certainly no more than half-an-hour
- Once your session is over, the therapist will remove the cups from your skin and will leave the room so that you can get dressed
- After your cupping session, you will be left with those tell-tale perfectly circular, reddish-purple marks on your skin. It takes about 7 to 10 days for the marks to heal and for your skin to return to normal
Handy tips and info
In order to maximize the results of your cupping therapy session, here are some tips and some valuable info to keep in mind.
- Drink plenty of water before and after your cupping therapy session. Staying hydrated will help to ensure that the toxic substances that were released from the muscles and tissues will exit your body.
- Take your time getting up from the table after your session. You may feel a little bit lightheaded and your heart rate may be somewhat slowed.
- Make sure that you are open and honest with the therapist. Tell him or her what type of issues you’re experiencing, what kind of goals you are looking to achieve – your purpose for having a cupping massage – and if the pressure from the cups is too intense.