Cupping Q and A 


What is Massage Cupping/Cupping?

Cupping /Massage cupping is a modern adaptation of the ancient Chinese art of cupping therapy. Silicone cups (traditionally glass) are used on the body as a unique way of applying myofascial techniques and deep tissue massage. Cupping uses negative static pressure to release toxins held in muscular tissue, invigorate blood and lymph circulation in specific areas of the body, relieve chronic muscle tension, and more. It is sometimes referred to as needle-less acupuncture.


How does cupping work?

Suction cups are used to facilitate soft tissue release and to loosen and lift connective tissue. Through the compression of a silicone cup, suction is created on the area of the body to which the cup is placed. The practitioner slides the cup along the body until softening of the muscle and connective tissue is observed. Oil is used to help the cups glide smoothly. This technique is known as massage cupping or "moving cups." The cups may also be placed stationary on specific joints or muscles depending on clients needs.


How does cupping feel?

Cupping clients usually report lasting changes for the better (especially with cumulative treatments). Cupping has a sedating effect on the nervous system, and many people find it profoundly relaxing. After a cupping treatment, clients typically report feelings of relief, muscular release, lightness, pleasant tingling, and freedom from pain and with increase in flexibility and muscular control. Contracted, tense and painful muscle tissue will soften quickly after just a few minutes of massage cupping.


Will it be painful?

Cupping is generally not painful. Some people who suffer from fibromyalgia or other chronic muscular disorders may feel minimal discomfort and should mention it immediately so adjustments can be made. Many people report that muscle tension and tenderness that was there prior to the session continues to improve for many hours after the session is completed and experience lasting results vs receiving a general massage.


Why should I try Massage Cupping?

Sometimes areas of tension or injury are simply too tense or tender to treat with certain therapeutic methods such as deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy or cross-fiber friction. Massage cupping is a gentle, non-invasive way to soften broad areas of tension so that more specific massage techniques can be comfortably applied. Massage cupping is especially effective for tightness of the iliotibial (IT) band, piriformis syndrome, digestive disorders, menstrual problems, carpal tunnel, tight hamstrings, chronic pain, tightness, and general muscle tightness.


What can I expect in a general session?

There are two main styles of cupping: stationary and gliding. Stationary cupping is used to release blockages and draw stagnation to the surface where the body can proceed to release and expel it. Cups are placed on the skin and left for five to 20 minutes. Depending on the individual need, anywhere from 4 to 12 cups may be applied. Stationary cupping sometimes results in rings and circles left on the body as toxins and blood move to the surface. Gliding Cupping is a form of massage which is done with a lifting movement of the cups as the cups smoothly glide across the skin. This is a fast effective alternative to the sometimes uncomfortable deep tissue massage. 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 when receiving this treatment. Specific to your needs, either or both techniques may be used.


What are the marks/discolorations

In areas of tissue dysfunction, this technique may occasionally leave a temporary mark, called "sha." Sha resembles a bruise but is not painful. Traditional Chinese Medicine regards the appearance of sha as an indication that toxins and stagnation are being pulled to the surface of the body, restoring healthy qi and blood flow below. These are NOT bruises. Bruises are usually the result of trauma from impact which breaks blood vessels and allows blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. In contrast, cupping involves the application of suction. Once understood and the many positive results of cupping are experienced, any initial concerns about cupping discolorations disappear.


How long do the marks last?

If any discolorations appear, they are temporary. typically ranging in color from light pink to dark purple and can last anywhere between a few hours to 10 days before gradually fading away entirely. Again, no pain or tenderness is typically felt following a cupping treatment, whether or not discolorations appear on the skin.