Sometimes life gives us surprises. The photo of some social personalities (from sports and cinema) with big red/purple circles on their backs made the news a few years ago. For many, that was the letter of introduction in the western world of an ancient therapy. Welcome, Cupping!
There are historical records of the therapeutic use of "cups" in China (a famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong, reportedly first practiced cupping; he lived from A.D. 281 to 341), Iran, Greece, and the Islamic world since the time of the Prophet. In countries like Finland, cupping is still a very popular traditional healing therapy today.
Cupping is a type of complementary therapy that involves placing suction cups on the skin to create suction. Suction can facilitate healing with blood flow. The suction cups increase blood circulation in the area where the suction cups are placed. As a result, there is greater oxygenation of these tissues, allowing the release of toxins from the blood and muscle more easily. This can relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. The pressure caused by the vacuum takes off the muscle and increases the amount of blood. It can also help form new connective tissues. This treatment is widely used to treat cellulite, since increased blood circulation can reduce the appearance of orange peel skin.
As a Chinese practice, there is also a non-physical component involved: cupping also facilitates the flow of "qi" in the body. As is the case with acupuncture, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) it is believed that the disease is due to blockages or incorrect flow of qi, which is the equivalent in TCM of "life force" or "vital energy". Cupping (like acupuncture) claims to unblock and realign qi, thereby restoring health.
How do we do it?
The cupping session that we offer at Spa Blue is done with dry manual suction cups. We avoid the use of fire for heating for safety reasons.
After your relaxation massage, our certified cupping therapist will apply massage oil to the area of your body to be treated. The cups are then placed and mechanical suction is made. The vacuum draws the skin and muscle up into the cup. Your skin may turn red as the blood vessels respond to the pressure change.
With the suction cup dry, the cup stays in place for a set amount of time, usually 5-10 minutes. The cups can remain static or move, depending on the condition to be treated.
Once the cups are removed, the practitioner will review the previously hollowed areas. After treatment, the skin around the rim of the cup may become irritated and marked in a circular pattern. Any slight bruising or other marks usually disappear within 7 days after the session.
Cupping is a relatively safe therapy, but its application requires certain precautions, since it has some contraindications. The therapist will not apply the cups in cases where there are thrombosis, thrombophlebitis or bleeding disorders, varicose veins, open wounds, fever or fractures. Besides this, the cupping treatment should also be avoided during pregnancy.
Some situations that are not absolute contraindications but that need more attention when using this type of treatment are: people with uncontrolled high blood pressure, after practicing exercises and its application in areas that do not have a good muscular layer, having more prominent bone extremities.
Therefore, at Spa Blue, before your massage, you will complete a basic confidential questionnaire about your medical condition, to ensure that your experience with us is safe and satisfactory.
Cupping is more than just circles on the back. It is another way to access relaxation and well-being. Hopefully you come to Spa Blue to check it out.
by Juan Luis Calderón, STL, LMT, RM