Cupping is considered to be one of the oldest natural healing therapies in the world. Archaeologist have found evidence of cupping therapy being practiced as early as 3000 B.C., with the earliest written record of cupping being used by the Egyptians around 1550 B.C., recorded in the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world. Chinese history tells us that they have been using cupping since 1000 B. C. for its healing and therapeutic values. Cupping was also used by Native Americans and early America physicians up until the mid-1800's, when it fell out of popularity due to the new scientific model of medical dominance. Today, we are experiencing a resurgence in alternative therapies as more people are looking outside the current medical model to regain their health and wellness. Cupping is also experiencing a resurgence in the medical community as they are beginning to realize the benefit that alternative therapies add to our overall health. The benefits of cupping are endless due to its stimulating and strengthening effects as it promotes quicker recovery times and aids in healing due to improved blood circulation.
What is Cupping?
Cupping is the use of suction, rather than compression, for bodywork. This remarkable therapy employs negative pressure, rather than tissue compression. The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system, thus allowing a deep relaxation to move through the entire body. Cupping is exceptional in massage for health maintenance and relaxation, and on a therapeutic level is beneficial for many conditions such as tramatic injuries, orthopedic conditions, abdominal disorders, and neurological dysfunctions. The suction created by cupping pulls stationary fluids in our bodies to the surface. This removes anything toxic or pathogenic and promotes fresh, oxygenated, nutrient rich blood and lymph flow to allow for:
- Deep work without discomfort
- Relief of inflammation
- Loosened adhesions
- Stretching muscles and connective tissues
- Breaking up and expelling congestion
- Strengthening the immune system
- Sedating the nervous system
- Arthritis & Rheumatism
- Asthma & respiratory problems
- Anxiety & depression
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- High blood pressue
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Lymphatic drainage
- And many more...
How it Works
A plastic, glass, or silicone cup is positioned over the area to be treated. Depending on the type of cup being used, a vacumn is created by reducing the pressure inside the cup, therefore stretching the underlying tissues into the cup. The suction created by this vacumn increases blood and lymphatic circulation to the local area being treated and systemically throughout the body.
Suction relaxes the muscle tissue being worked and drains any toxins and pathogenic factors in our system out of the body. The intended suction can range from light to heavy, and movement of the cups can be stimulating and toning, or sedating and draining. People are suprised at how relaxed, warm, and light they feel hours later!
The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system, thus allowing a deep relaxation to move through the entire body. It is not unusual to fall asleep during cupping treatment!
Cupping Therapies Available
- Massage Cupping Bodywork - Used on the back, the larger cups will mimic the rolling action of myofascial release without discomfort. The variety of movements can be long and draining, circular and vibrational for stimulation, and for areas of stubborn knots and rigid tissue. The skin will redden with pressure, indicating that the circulation has been brought to the surface.
- MediCupping Therapy
- Sports/Dynamic Cupping - The use of suction is commonlpace throughout the history of the Olympic Games for maintenance, pre and post event injuries, detoxification, and recovery. Besides cupping for injuries and recovery, Olympic trainers use suction to draw toxins from the swimmers that have been absorbed from the pools that they are in for hours everyday! Cumulative cupping treatments increase muscle endurance, circulation, lung capacity, lymphatic drainage, and health maintenance during strenous activities. Many professional athletes incorporate it into their training to enhance their overall performance, agility, and ability to recover from their sports.
- Reflexology Cupping Treatment - Reflexology is the science based on reflexes on the feet, hands, ears, and face which correspond to all the glands, organs, and other parts of the body. It is a natural, non-invasive way of stimulating internal organs increasing circulation and restoring bodily functions to normal. Reflexology techniques are enhanced with Magnetic Apparatus Suction Cups. These biomagnetic tools can also be used for addressing joint discomfort, trigger points, and applied to shiatsu tsubos. Reflexology can reduce stress, relieve pain, increase energy, improve circulation, cleanse the body of a myriad of toxins, improve health, strengthen the immune system, enhance creativity and productivity. Reflexology can assist in weight loss and in overcoming addictions.
- Facial Cupping - Women in Asia, Russia, and Europe have been utilizing these remarkable negative pressure facial exercises for rejuvenation and maintenance for generations. Protocols for the face use the small cups to vacumn and lift the facial tissue, mimicking the pumping movements of lymphatic drainage. It is a manual method that replicates the effects of equipment currently in use in most of the top aesthetic establishments. The benefits include increased local circulation of the skin, increased nutrients brought to the epidermis, and enhanced absorption of facial topicals. The drainage of stagnant fluids from reservoir areas will reduce edema and chronic puffiness. Lines and wrinkles will soften, and it will plump areas of scar tissue, making it an exceptionally powerful and suprisingly relaxing enhancement to advanced facial treatments.
- Abdominal Cupping - Cupping is an excellent therapy for the belly. It stretches the walls of the organs, thus sloughing off stagnant waste and mucus, and promotes the activity of digestion. People consistently report expelling an excess amount of waste immediately following treatments and an increase of eliminations throughout the day. Cupping is regularly, and with great success, being used to help in conception, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, distension, and acidity.
- Orthopedic Cupping - Stubborn conditions that may have been present for decades are easily resolved with cupping. Nothing works better at opening up and releasing joints, connective tissue, and muscles than the use of negative pressure and movement.
- Cellulite Treatments - Another profound application of the negative pressure technique is in the treatment of cellulite. The spa industry has a myrid of equipement to choose from to treat cellulite, and cupping performs many of the same functions manually, and with much less discomfort. Light pressure provides drainage, while the heavier applications can be used to stimulate circulation and loosen connective tissues or orange peel appearance.
Prior to your cupping session
It is recommened that you drink lots of room temperature water, get plenty of rest, avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods, and drinks a few days prior to your session. This will assist the body in adjusting, flushing, and processing the treatment.
After your Cupping Session
After your session, you should avoid exposure to cold, wet, or windy weather conditions, hot showers, baths, saunas, hot tunbs and aggressive exercise for 24 hours. These recommendations will minimize any side effects (nausea, headaches, and light headedness) that are common during detoxification initiated by cupping therapy. Please remember that side effects are most intense when beginning to receive cupping treatments, and lessen dramatically as your body becomes accustomed to cummulative treatments.
Cupping may leave marks, or skin discolorations, called petechia. It is important to note that this is the therapeutically desired effect. These marks do not hurt, and are not bruises. These marks indicate that toxins or excess fluids in our system have been moved from the deeper tissue layers to the surface. This allows fresh oxygenated blood to nourish and heal the underling areas. The color and pattern of the marks depends on the overall health of the underlying tissue. If there is no stagnation present, the color will be only a light pink mark which disappears in a few minutes to a couple of hours. In areas of injury or disease, the color will vary from bright red to speckled or even purple. Marks can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending on your water intake and activity level. Sites where there is old trauma or injury may require multiple cupping treatments to remove all stagnation. You will find in follow up treatments the marks will be visibly lighter and lighter as the pathogens are systemically removed from the body.
What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha (pronounced "gwa shaw,") is an East Asian healing technique. Gua means to scrape or rub. Sha is a 'reddish, elevated, millet-like skin rash' (aka petechiae). Sha is the term used to describe blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised as petechiae. Gua Sha is one technique that intentionally raises Sha rash or petechiae. In Vietnam the technique is called Cao Yio, in Indonesia: Kerik, in Laos: Khoud Lam.
When is Gua Sha used?
Gua Sha is used whenever a patient has pain whether associated with an acute or chronic disorder. There may be aching, tenderness and/or a knotty feeling in the muscles. Palpation reveals Sha when normal finger pressure on a patient's skin causes blanching that is slow to fade. In addition to resolving musculo skeletal pain, Gua Sha is used to treat as well as prevent common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, as well as any chronic disorder involving pain, congestion of Qi and Blood. Gua sha is particularly effective for athletes or others who are active and want to get back to their routine as soon as possible. It can be used in cases of tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, golfer’s elbow and achilles tendonitis, as well as other soft tissue conditions or injuries.
Where is Gua Sha applied?
Sha is raised primarily at the Yang surface of the body: the back, neck, shoulders, and limbs.
How is Gua Sha performed?
To apply Gua Sha, the area is cleaned and an oil is applied. The skin is then rubbed with a round-edged instrument in downward strokes. One area is stroked until the petechiae that surfaces are completely raised. If there is no blood stasis the petechiae will not form and the skin will only turn pink. The Sha petechiae should fade in about 2-4 days. Gua Sha treatment can be used up to twice weekly, and is most effective when used as a weekly treatment on chronic conditions.
What kind of instrument is used to Gua Sha?
A special stone or stainless steel tool is used in our office to perform this technique.
What does the type of Sha indicate?
The color of the Sha is both diagnostic and prognostic. Very light colored Sha can indicate a deficiency of blood. If the Sha is fresh red, it is of recent penetration. If the Sha is purple or black, the Blood stasis is long-standing. If brown, the blood may be dry. Dark red Sha can indicate heat.
How fast will the petechiae fade?
The Sha petechiae should fade in 2-4 days. This is NOT bruising. These marks indicate that toxins or excess fluids in our system have been moved from the deeper tissue layers to the surface. This allows fresh oxygenated blood to nourish and heal the underling areas. The color and pattern of the marks depends on the overall health of the underlying tissue. If there is no stagnation present, the color will be only a light pink mark which disappears in a few minutes to a couple of hours.
What are the benefits of Gua Sha?
In most cases the patient feels an immediate shift in their condition particularly in their pain or sense of constraint. Gua Sha moves stuck Qi and blood, releases the exterior mimicking sweating, and moves fluids. In a modern medical construct these fluids contain metabolic waste that congested the surface tissues and muscles. Gua Sha promotes circulation and normalizes metabolic processes. It is a valuable treatment for both external and internal pain, and facilitates the resolution of both acute and chronic disorders.
Is Gua Sha Safe?
Gua Sha is a completely safe technique. Knowing when to use it and what to expect from treatment is as important as good technique. People who live in chronic pain often erect emotional defenses to cope with it or can feel completely hopeless. Having that pain ‘touched’ and relieved can be unsettling, even shocking. After your session, light activity for the remainder of the day is recommended.