Never heard of “cupping?” No, it’s not a new coffee-drinking craze; it’s an ages old (like thousands of years old) form of acupuncture that fuzzily dates back to the ancient Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks, while fresh evidence of its application (round, reddish rings) can be seen on the backs of young Hollywood lovelies like Jennifer Anniston and Victoria Beckham as they walk red carpets at awards shows and Hollywood premieres.
The technique of applying cups of varying sizes made into mini-vacuums to areas of pain or inflammation throughout the body (most frequently on backs) was used in ancient times for everything from snakebites and skin lesions. Now it is more commonly used for relieving symptoms of common colds, the pain of back aches, the look of cellulite, nagging carpal tunnel pains and even depression. It’s based on the idea that suction from the cups draws the skin up and mobilizes blood and energy around the body.
If you’re under stress and have suffered a physical trauma like a pulled shoulder, it might mean the energy there has become stagnated. Cupping in strategic locations, along with cupping massage in the affected area, can often help relieve the pain in a matter of minutes. “I was skeptical,” said Dena Kouremetis, who comes in for regular 90-minute massages. “I didn’t believe it until Connie tried it on my tendonitis and applied it to my right arm. I walked in with a thumb whose every movement resulted in pain and walked out with a pain-free thumb. It was remarkable.” Indeed, I have at least ten regular clients who come in for routine cupping therapy and swear by it.
Our belief is that cupping enables the blood and energy to move again and travel to an area where the healing process can begin, whether it’s a localized pain, you’re coming down with a cold, or bronchitis is setting in. The suction may help to stop the infection from penetrating further into the system.
So what is the experience of cupping like? Although the more rudimentary forms of cupping involve using heat, I use a method whereby a syringe-like vacuum device is applied to the cup and creates a partial vacuum as the cup adheres to the skin. I leave it there for several minutes before using it to massage the affected area in its vacuumed state, and in some cases, apply several cups to a given area and just leave them there for a while as I massage other parts of the body. Temporary bruising can occur, and I disclose that up front. But in Dena’s case, she walked out with no marks on her arm whatsoever.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow made an appearance at a film premier in 2004 sporting large circular marks made by a prominent UK practitioner, Dr, Nish Joshi, who once had Princess Diana as a regular client.
His website recommends cupping “to aid the lymphatic flow, reduce fluid build-up, increase the blood circulation which will help give the skin a healthier appearance and reduce cellulite.” Cupping has and continues to be used on athletes and celebrities alike. For more information on whether to include this as part of your routine massage visits at The Healing Station, give me a call at 916.294.9980 to discuss if this ancient technique is something that may benefit you.