You may have  missed seeing pictures of  tv and movie celebrities with circular marks (looking like bruises) on their body posing in popular magazines in the early 2000’s, but it was hard to miss Michael Phelps and other athletes in the 2016 Olympics competing with even brighter and more vivid circular marks (looking like bruises) on their backs and shoulders.  The frenzy was on. “What are those bruises?” was the most common discussion on all medias.  This was the first  time many had ever heard of “Cupping”.

Some thought it was some fad the athletes had picked up hoping it would increase their performance only to find out that cupping has been used in medicine dating back as far as 1550 BC in Egypt.  As the days and weeks went on after the Olympics, information and discussions about “Cupping” became mainstream and everybody wanted to know more.

History of Cupping dates back to the earliest known medical writings including cupping treatments in the “Ebers of Papyrus” from 1550 BC in Egypt.  From there it has been known to be used by Hippocrates (The father of Medicine) and other Physicians in  Greece, Mohammed and other Islamic Healers, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners, European Physicians, Shamans, Native American Women Healers, Physicians and Healers in Western Modern Medicine to now Licensed Health Care Practitioners, Alternative Health Practitioners, and basic cupping treatments are performed by individuals at home.

Popular Names of Cupping

  • Traditional Chinese Cupping (Chinese)
  • Al-Hijama (Islamic)
  • Raktamokshan therapy  (India)
  • Modern or Massage Cupping

So What Does Cupping Do?

Modern day cupping is typically performed using glass, plastic or Silicone cups, but in the early days of Cupping, bamboo and animal horns were used.  In Fire Cupping, a cotton ball attached to a hemostat is lit on fire.  The fire cotton ball is inserted in the glass cup, removed and the cup is quickly placed on the skin.  The fire removes oxygen from the cup creating a suction, so when the cup is placed on the skin, the suction causes the skin to raise up into the cup.

Once the skin is suctioned up into the cup, compressed tissues under the skin are allowed to decompress by the suction causing a separation of tissues that become adhered or fused together.  When tissue is “un stuck” , fluid can flow naturally and easily through these tissues which helps restore energy blockages, rehydration to the tissue, restore oxygenation to the area, vasodilation brings blood flow back to the area and trapped debris aka toxins are able to flow out of the area along with other cupping benefits.  This process has been known to help with many medical ailments and also reduce soft tissue pain.  As we think back to the athletes, you can now see why they would use cupping to reduce soft tissue pain, to keep tissues healthy to help prevent injuries and especially to speed up recovery after competition.

During the chemical processes that occurs with cupping, some other benefits include the  stimulation of the body to produce fibroblasts which stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Not only do collagen and elastin help repair or reduce issues with  ligaments and tendons, it also lifts and plumps up the tissue therefore making cupping a popular treatment of the face to reduce wrinkles and rejuvenate the texture of the skin.

Types of Cupping

  • Wet Cupping
  • Dry Cupping
  • Static Cupping
  • Dynamic Cupping