Cupping marks may look painful, however looks can be deceiving!
What is it used for?
Cupping is not unique to TCM. It has been used across a variety of cultures and ages for different reasons. According to conventional TCM practice, cupping is mainly used for:
Muscle pain- very often applied to large muscle groups on the back, shoulders, ITB and gluteal muscles.
Treatment of colds & flu’s- cupping at specific points on the upper back can stimulate an immune response as it stimulates the pores and causes a controlled trauma to the superficial tissues, activating the immune system.
How is it done?
Here at Newtown Acupuncture Centre we use both glass and plastic cups. With glass cupping we create a suction by lighting cotton wool and quickly placing it inside the cup. We then remove the flame before placing the cup directly on the skin. The flame creates a suction, making the cup suck on to the skin. It also creates a gentle warm feeling. The glass cups have a nice round edge that is also ideal for sliding the cups along the skin, akin to a deep tissue massage.
Plastic cups work via a pump system to suck the air out and create a vacuum to stick the cup to the skin. This system is good for controlling how strong the pressure is.
Does it hurt?
Cupping creates a strong suction, and so it tends to feel tight more than painful. If the suction is too strong, the suction is easily reduced by the practitioner letting a little air out of the cup.
Advantages of cupping
Cupping of muscles has a similar effect to deep tissue massage. The suction forces the blood and extracellular fluids to move and circulate. This movement allows for increased micro-circulation of the muscles encouraging healing and regeneration. The advantage is that it is not as painful as deep tissue massage and is much more time efficient.
How long will the cupping marks last?
Most cupping marks last somewhere between 4-8 days. Occasionally cupping marks can still be slightly noticeable a fortnight after treatment. It really depends on the individual’s reaction to the cupping. Some people are left with only a faint mark straight after the treatment, while others will have that typical round bruised mark. This in itself is seen as diagnostic in TCM.