An Introduction to Cupping
Written by Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists staff
Cupping is one of the oldest forms of manual therapy, originating in China thousands of years ago. It is known to relieve sore or tight muscles among other benefits by activating blood flow. For the treatment, the therapist will place a glass or a plastic cup onto the skin and will create suction like a vacuum. The suction can also be created with either a hand suction pump or a burning cotton wool ball. The skin, muscle, and fascia will then draw up into the cup. Placement of the cups will depend on where the person is feeling tightness or pain in the muscle.
What does cupping feel like?
The suction of cups is not painful. Most find it to be a releasing and pleasant sensation during the suction. The cups can remain in position for several minutes, or the therapist can glide them over the skin similar to movements of a massage. This negative pressure is the opposite of a deep tissue massage- a pulling versus a pushing effect.
What are the benefits of cupping?
• Relaxation: Suction cups provide a negative pressure on the skin, muscle, and fascia. This can be a relaxing and soothing experience.
• Treatment promotes blood circulation which speeds up muscle recovery. The negative pressure allows new blood to flow into that area of tissue with several benefits: 1) the exchange of blood allows the removal of toxins and dead cells, kick-starting the healing and regeneration process, 2) provides feeling of relief from physical and emotional tensions, 3) warms the skin and softens tissues to regain elasticity, and 4) reduces inflammation.
• The cupping makes it easier for the therapist to release and pinpoint the “knots” of the muscles. The therapist is able to pinpoint the knots and discover the underlying issues due to the condition of the skin once the cup is removed.
“Twelve years ago I fell skiing resulting in neck and lower back surgeries which left me with severe neck pain and chronic migraines. I have been working with NV Advanced Pain over the years to address the pain. One of the treatments that has helped tremendously has been massage therapy and cupping. Traditional massage results in the feeling that your muscles are being kneaded down on your body. Conversely cupping actually suctions your skin up from the body, resulting in an intense but wonderful pull feeling on the muscle. It is not painful at all, but you are left with some funny looking marks for a few days! The pain relief that I feel after a massage is definitely increased when cupping is used as part of the treatment. I’m grateful that Shauna offers this wonderful treatment as part of my pain management program!” - Michele Montoya, patient