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Cupping Therapy­ pulls blood stagnation, lactic acid, and other metabolic wastes from the deeper layers of tissue. Glass cups are applied to the skin and create a vacuum which helps bring new blood to specific areas to help heal and repair tissue. This is a great treatment to use in conjunction with massage to help move stagnation in stubborn areas.

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Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is a system of treatment that employs suction through cups either by using some kind of vacuum or fire to create negative pressure in the cup. This pressure draws the skin up into the cup, creating space between the skin, fascia and muscles while drawing more blood to the area.  The therapy also breaks capillaries at the surface creating the well-known, completely painless, perfectly circular “bruise.” The breaking of these capillaries is often referred to as microtrauma and further triggers a healing response both locally and systemically.

Classically it was thought that “toxins” or “evil substances” were pulled out of deeper tissue to the surface and were released from the skin.  Today, studies have shown that cupping strongly increases circulation to an area up to 6 inches below where the cup was placed. It this way it can help get fresh blood and oxygen to the tissue that may not be getting good blood flow.

History of Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is one of the oldest therapies using an instrument.  Sources vary as to where cupping originated, but the most common origins come from over 4000 years ago in either Egypt, Greece or Persia.  Cupping traveled globally via the silk trade route and physicians began to write about the therapy around 300 AD. It had been in China for much longer, but the therapy was often employed by local healers and family members prior to seeking medical attention.  It is mentioned heavily in the Koran and Muhammad claimed it could treat thousands of diseases. The first cups were made of stone, clay, buffalo horn and bamboo. Today modern cups can be made out of thick-walled glass, silicon, plastics, and metal. Fire is still used to create a vacuum with glass, however other materials use pumps or are “squeezed-out” to remove the air and create the suction. 

Common Applications for Cupping

Cupping is most commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, especially in the neck, shoulders and low back.  If can be employed along any muscles/ tendons that are reasonably flat and can be great for IT bands, hips and calves as well. In addition to physical pain, it has been used clinically for thousands of years for respiratory health, colds and flu, digestive issues, and allergies.