Cupping is a therapy that has been around for a long time. It has roots in Chinese medicine, with references to this therapy dating back almost two thousand years. In the past decade, cupping has received attention because numerous celebrities including Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and actress Gwyneth Paltrow have touted the benefits of cupping therapy. Some acupuncturists and massage therapists incorporate cupping into treatment.
What is cupping and how does it work? Cupping is a therapy performed by a trained practitioner who places small glass cups on the body to create suction. Once suction is created, the practitioner gently slides the cups along tight muscles, loosening them and encouraging blood flow. In a way, cupping is the inverse of typical massage strokes that apply pressure downward on a muscle. It uses negative pressure and pulls the muscles upward, to disrupt the tight muscle pattern. Cupping generally feels more gentle than a deep tissue massage, however, according to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, it is thought to affect tissues 4 inches deep. Additionally, cupping often follows the lines of acupuncture meridians, releasing stagnation, resulting in better energy flow and a calm nervous system. Cupping is usually performed on the back. There is a mild side effect. The suction from the cups create red rings that take a few days to fade. If you're headed to the beach or planning to wear an open back cocktail dress, you may want to consider putting your cupping therapy off until after. Otherwise, go ahead and experience how cupping can bring much needed relief to your tight muscles.