Aruba Sports Medicine

Cupping Therapy

What exactly is cupping in the context of massage?

A treatment for cupping that is therapeutic includes warming and placing cups, usually made of glass, on the skin. In the process of warming the air in the cup, a vacuum is created, and when it is applied to the skin tissues are drawn to the cup. This promotes healing, increases blood flow, and also reduces the tension in connective tissue. It is similar to deep tissue massage, which can help reduce pain and to break down scar tissue. Cupping is commonly applied to areas of pain, such as the back, neck, and shoulders. The cups can cause temporary soreness or bruise dependent on the strength of suction created by vacuum as well as the degree of internal stagnation. This would indicate that the treatment has eliminated stagnation and toxins, according to TCM. The cups are removed by lifting one edge and allowing air to enter and breaking the seal and vacuum.

What exactly is cupping therapy??
TCM believes that stagnation in blood or qi is what is the cause of the disease. Cupping stimulates the local circulation of blood and qi around the area of treatment. This helps to relieve the swelling, tension, and discomfort. It draws impurities to the surface and removes toxic substances. According to Western science, cupping improves the flow of blood and relaxes connective tissue. Cupping stimulates tissue relaxation and better cell-to-cell communication. The work of U.S. physiologist and acupuncturist Helene Langevin has documented cell-level changes using an ultrasound camera. She has proven the effects of cupping, acupuncture, and massage relax tissue and reducing markers of inflammation. Inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers) are reduced, while the cytokines that aid in healing and relaxation are increased.

What are the benefits of cupping?

The advantages of cupping include local pain relief and relaxing muscles. Cupping helps improve overall health by removing the blockages in energy that TCM practitioners consider to be obstacles in the flow of energy or Qi. In the case of athletes, cupping may assist in increasing the flow of blood to a specific muscle region or help reduce discomfort. Cupping was used by a variety of athletes during the Rio Olympics 2016. This can be seen in circular markings on some members of the U.S. swim team members.

How long will the cupping of bumps require?

The bruises that result from cupping last from a few days to a couple of weeks. According to TCM practitioner Casco, it is expected that after several weeks of repeated cupping treatments the bruises will reduce as the stagnation is eliminated. This is an indication of a successful cupping protocol.