Michael Phelps made cupping known and popular to the world. I’m sure everyone knows what it is now. But if you don’t, I’ll explain. This year I got cupped because of some trouble I was having with my right shoulder. I must admit I was skeptical. Surprisingly, it felt good and loosened up the joint. I know, I know these are weird things for a massage therapist to say. I had it done a few more times and decided this can really be helpful to some of my clients. So I learned two styles of cupping: dry and massage cupping.
How does cupping work?
The cups (glass or silicone) bring blood to the surface. The nutrient-rich blood nourishes the injured area. The area then becomes heated due to the suction and the increased blood flow causing the soft tissue to loosen. Making the area feel better by unsticking areas that were causing pain, pulling, tightness and so forth.
The cups can be placed in the areas of need for 3-20 minutes depending on how long it takes for blood to reach the surface and take effect.
This form of cupping uses a harder cup. The cups are made of hard plastic or glass. They require a pump to fix them to the body. These cups are often used for placement in areas that need deeper work. They adhere to the body really well because their suction is great. This style of cupping is very effective for getting movement in areas I would describe as being stuck.
These cups are made of silicone. They resemble massage because they are used for gliding. The cups pick up the skin with their suction as they are being glided from one area to the next. They can also be used as placement cups but the effect isn’t as intense as dry cupping. Nevertheless, they are as beneficial and therapeutic.
Is cupping for you?
There are many different uses for cupping. There are many practices for the modality too. I have described the types of cups and how I use them in my practice. Cupping can benefit just about anyone who suffers from a chronic tightness or a fresh sprain/strain. It can also be beneficial for breaking up and dispersing inflammation, build up of toxins and lymphedema.
Cupping is safe however it is common to experience mild discomfort and bruising. The bruising will disperse within 3-7 days.