Cupping is a therapy that has been practiced for over 3500 years, most famously in Chinese medicine. Chinese medical practitioners believe cupping helps keep the body in balance, normalizes qi and blood flow, and reduces pain. It encourages the built-in processes in the human body to heal itself.
Cupping therapy’s effect on the body happens through the suction and decompression of the muscles and connective tissues and is similar to a regular deep tissue massage. The cups can be made from glass, bamboo, plastic, or silicone.
The practitioner can apply cupping in several ways. They can be placed and left up to 10 minutes in place or they can be placed and then moved along the skin that has been lubricated to treat a larger area. The sensation during the treatment can vary from pleasurable to uncomfortable but should never be painful. After the treatment, there can be bruises and/or marks. This is should not be a concern as this is a normal reaction of the body from the suction.
As far as using this technique in a healthcare setting, always choose a trained professional for it. Every practitioner who uses this technique should be able to explain the benefits and the risks before doing it, getting consent from the client.
Cupping therapy is beneficial in decreasing muscles tension, reducing pain, and increasing the range of motion when there is a restriction. There is some evidence that it helps with a realignment of scar tissue fibers and will create an overall feeling of relaxation and relieve muscle tension.
In general, cupping is not used when the patient has: varicose veins, blood vessel and/or nerves inflammation, skin inflammation, any type of skin lesion, over body orifices, eyes, and sites of deep vein thrombosis.