This physical therapy uses small glass or plastic cups as suction devices which are placed on the skin for about 10 minutes. Think of it as an ‘inverse’ massage where instead of the therapist pushing down on the skin, the negative pressure under the cups pulls upwards. This invigorates the circulation and helps to clear toxins and blockages as it moves body fluids including lymph. The cups may remain stationery or may be gently moved across a chosen area.
Cupping is not painful but patients will feel a firm sensation from the suction, which can be adjust as necessary. Most people find this a relaxing, relieving treatment. It’s great for tight muscles especially those common mid back aches from sitting at keyboards or nursing babies. It is also traditionally used to help alleviate congestion on the lungs.
Cupping will often leave a pale red to purple marks which you may have seen on the backs of Olympic athletes or celebrities like Gwyneth Paltow, however, these are not true bruises. They are more correctly termed ‘cupping marks’ and, when the therapy is done correctly, you will only see such a mark when the cup is placed over an area where there are unhealthy accumulations of toxins, dead blood cells or excess lymph fluid. When these are gently drawn away you get a mark and the area can begin to heal. The marks may last from just a few hours up to a week but unlike a bruise, they generally will not be tender to the touch.