Cupping is a type of therapeutic technique within the Chinese medicine (TCM) framework. In this article I will introduce you to the basic concepts and discuss the various benefits and effects.
When you think about it, cupping is actually a type of reverse massage. In a western massage such as Deep Tissue, pressure is applied via fingers and elbows to get muscle fibres to "release" or let go. In this way fibres are squeezed by the applied pressure. Cupping uses a moderate vacuum to pull the skin thus spreading the underlying fibres apart to allow blood to nourish them so they release.
Practitioner uses fire to briefly heat the air inside a specially designed glass "cup" and then places it quickly on the skin thus sealing the cup. As the air cools it contracts and creates a vacuum.
Cups are placed over the area of body that is deficient, in excess or over an acupoint* as needed. The amount or vacuum and the time taken allow a practitioner to achieve many different results.
Many types of cups have been invented some that don't use fire at all such as in Japanese Needle therapy. These make use of a small attachable pump to draw the air out and create suction.
It takes a while to get proficient at but the simplicity allows me to focus more on the treatment and not on the tools.
I use cupping in a shiatsu or a massage** session according on your needs.
Cupping application is typically quite relaxing and is rarely painful. It does however leave temporary round circles (marks) that are easy to mistake for bruises. One needs to be mindful if a photography, an interview meeting or such activity is planned in the near future as the marks can take up to a week to disperse. Typically they disperse within a few hours.
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* Acupoint is an alternative term for Acupressure or Acupuncture point. It is not a trigger point.
** This would be a deep tissue or remedial session unless otherwise requested. In either case should your condition indicate cupping I will discuss it with you at the time.