What Is Cupping?
Cupping is definitely one of the oldest forms of manual therapy. It is thousands of years old ancient form of Chinese medicine that involves creating suction at various points on the body. A famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong, who lived from A.D. 281 to 341, reportedly first practiced cupping. As I already said, cupping has been widely practiced on China, but also in many other countries worldwide, such as ancient Egypt and Middle Eastern cultures.
It is believed that cupping helps balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive, within the body. It is thought that restoring balance between these two extremes helps with the body’s resistance to pathogens as well as its ability to reduce pain and increase blood flow.
In Western medicine, cupping is used as a direct clinical application, where the therapist notes an area of restriction and applies the suction directly onto it to affect change. This is different to traditional Eastern methods which rely on affecting change in the line of meridians or “Qi” – a Chinese word meaning life force – throughout the body.
Cupping therapy involves placing cups on the skin to create suction, which may facilitate healing with blood flow. Cupping brings fresh blood to cupping area and improves blood and fluent circulation, and the blood is therefore releasing more oxygen into the tissues and contributing to the reduction of tissue inflammation. Cupping therapy is widely used treatment of a variety of health conditions, including asthma, digestive disturbances, skin disorders and poor circulation. It may also help form new connective tissues, reduce appearance of cellulite, release toxins and create new blood vessels in the tissue.
Cupping increases the blood flow and warms the skin. This makes it easier for the therapist to get into the ‘knots’ in your muscles. Also, once the therapist removes the cup, the skin relays information to him about the underlying tissue. A darker patch on skin would indicate an area of restriction or adhesion in the muscles, which can then help the therapist to pinpoint exactly where to massage.
Contrary to the commonly-held impression, the suction of the cups does not hurt, and most people find the sensation very pleasant, a sort of a release. The therapist leaves the cups in position for several minutes, or he can glide them over the skin similar to the movements of a massage. For best results, it is also recommended to fast or eat only light meals for two to three hours before your cupping session. Even professional athletes, most notably Michael Phelps, is a major proponent of cupping. He uses this treatment mainly to treat athletic aches and pains.
Traditional cupping therapy has been fading because the lack of trained cupping professionals. However, now with modern tech and materials anyone can practice cupping at their own homes. It is very important to note that you should talk with your doctor before integrating cupping as part of treatment for any health condition.
The Different Types of Cupping
The cups may be made of glass, earthenware, and silicone. However, cupping was originally performed using animal horns, bamboo, bronze or even copper. The suction was primarily created through the use of heat, where the cups were originally heated with fire and then applied to the skin. As they cooled, the cups drew the skin, muscle, and fascia up into the cup.
Unlike in traditional old fashion cupping, Massage Cupping cups are usually made from modern silicone materials, because silicone as a material is flexible, strong and easy to clean. Some of the cups are made from rubber. However, silicone as a material allows easier and more comprehensive use compared to traditional glass or plastic cupping cups. It is also more anti-allergic and fits to people with latex allergy.
There are mainly three different types of cupping used these days:
- Dry cupping
- Wet cupping
- Massage Cupping Therapy
Dry and Wet Cupping are more ancient and traditional types, while Massage Cupping Therapy is more trending and modern form of cupping.
In Dry Cupping, cupping cup is placed to the skin and air inside the cup will be drained, which causes your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand. Usually treatment is rather fast, and the cup is generally left in place for up to 3 minutes. However, in some cases longer treatment times are used, and cups are placed therefore for up to fifteen minutes or more.
In Wet Cupping, the therapist makes small wounds to the skin using a small scalpel and small amounts of blood is removed from the body. Wet Cupping Treatment begins similar like in Dry Cupping. However, in this treatment several small incisions are being made in the skin surface to collect blood. You might get 3-5 cups in your first session, or you might just try one to see how it goes. In order to prevent infection, you may get an antibiotic ointment and bandage. After wet cupping it may take up even 10 days to 2 weeks for your skin to look normal again. Wet cupping is typically used to remove stagnant blood and the supporters of this treatment believe that wet cupping removes harmful substances and toxins from the body to promote healing. As I already said, there is blood contact in wet cupping. That’s why it is very important that the whole process is clean and sterile to prevent infections and diseases from spreading.
During massage cupping, the cup is moved gently around the affected area creating a “negative pressure” massage. The advantage of this treatment is that blood is drawn to the area, reducing inflammation and increasing circulation. Massage cupping is often used for muscle tension, weight loss, face skin care, and cellulite reduction. Typically rubber or silicone material is used on massage cupping cups, because they are easier to move.
While traditional massage applies compression to the muscles, cupping instead uses negative pressure to lift, open and expand the body’s soft tissues. Suction applied in Cupping Therapy combined to the movement of cups causes the tissue, skin and muscles to be pulled upwards. This will enhance the blood and oxygen circulation to tissue and due the better fluid circulation release of toxins is improved.
To get most out of massage cupping experience, it is recommended to use massage oil or lubrication during Massage Cupping Therapy because oil improves the glide of the cups on the skin. Also, natural essentials oils will gain the health and wellness of skin.
Massage Cupping eases tension, helps to reduce stress, and will effectively produce feel of relaxation.
Benefits of Massage Cupping Therapy
Massage Cupping Therapy has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions and has many benefits, such as:
- Promotes blood circulation speeds up muscle recovery
- Provides a feeling of relief from physical and emotional tensions
- Cleans the body of toxins and slags
- Enhances the filtration of interstitial fluid
- Begins the healing and regeneration process
- Warms the skin, and softens tissues to regain elasticity
- Smooths out cellulite
- Fades out scars and stretch marks
- Improves intestine function
- Stimulates metabolism
- Reduces stress
- Reduces cough and dyspnea
- Relieves symptoms of flu
- Stimulates peripheral nervous system
The British Cupping Society says that Massage Cupping Therapy is also used to treat high blood pressure, blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia, fertility and gynecological disorders, rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, migraines, toothache, dizziness, skin problems such as eczema and acne, varicose veins, bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma, anxiety and depression.
It’s also important to note that cupping is a less strenuous (but no less effective) form of therapy, so it helps the therapist to prolong their ability to treat clients at a high level for a longer duration.
How Massage Cupping Differs from Traditional Cupping?
Silicone cupping is exploding in popularity, whether it’s for sports massage or cosmetic treatments. Cupping Massage Therapy differs from traditional cupping and traditional massage therapy almost in every way. Creating suction is one common thing which connects these two treatments. On traditional cupping a suction is made by heating the cups or removing air from cups with a suction pump, while with silicone cupping cups a suction is created by squeezing down the silicone cup, placed on the surface of the skin and then releasing the squeezed cups. In any case silicone cupping procedure is safe, stackable and fun to use. It is also is much simpler and not as raw and painful as traditional cupping methods. This silicone cupping is made of extra-thick high-grade hypoallergenic silicone material, which can be deformed, which means that the cups will also work great in difficult body areas, such as knees, ankles and wrists.
Advantages of Silicone Massage Cupping Sets
- The silicone massage cupping cups are made from sturdy silicone material, so they’re long-lasting and durable.
- The cups are very inexpensive and they are priced as low as a single massage session or facial treatment at cosmetologist.
- Silicone cupping cups are easy to use. It’s fast and easy and there’s no muscle power, fire, or heat.
- The cups are light and portable, so they can be grabbed and used everywhere, e.g. at home, travel, business trip, sports etc.
- Silicone cupping cups have ergonomic structure so they can be used almost for your whole body.
- The cups are convenient and practical to use and you can easily manage the level of suction according to you own liking just by squeezing the silicone cups.
Massage Cupping Therapy is considered to be safe when you follow the manuals and instructions of cupping cup manufacturer’s. The side effects you may experience are sweating or nausea. You may feel lightheaded or dizzy. These side effects will typically occur during your treatment or immediately after.
After treatment, the area where the cups touch your skin may become irritated and marked in a circular pattern. You may also have pain at incision sites.
It’s important to note that infection is always a risk after undergoing cupping therapy. However, if your practitioner follows the right methods for cleaning your skin and controlling infection before and after your session, the risk is small and usually avoided.
Your practitioner should use clean equipment, wear an apron, disposable gloves, and goggles or other eye protection. They should also have regular vaccines to ensure protection against certain diseases, like hepatitis.
It’s very important to research practitioners thoroughly to protect your own safety and talk extensively with your cupping therapist, too, before you try it.
Consult your practitioner if you experience any of these issues because they may offer remedies or steps you can take before your session in order to avoid any discomfort.
Restrictions of Massage Cupping Therapy
Most medical professionals don’t have training or a background in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), so they may be cautious or uncomfortable with answering questions related to healing methods like cupping. Also, some concerns have been raised about the competence of some CAM practitioners and some may be particularly enthusiastic about their methods, even suggesting you skip over conventional medical treatments advised by your doctor.
But if you do choose to try cupping as part of your treatment plan, talk with your doctor before you start cupping or any other type of alternative or complementary medicine.
Cupping therapy isn’t recommended for everyone and there are some limitations and recommendations listed below. Massage cupping therapy is not recommended for:
Small children. Children under 4 years old shouldn’t receive cupping therapy, while older children should only be treated for very short periods.
If you are pregnant. Pregnant women should avoid cupping the abdomen and lower back.
Seniors. Our skin becomes more fragile as we age, so any medication you may be taking might have an effect as well.
Women who are currently menstruating.
People who are skinny shouldn’t place massage cupping cups above the spine, bones, joints, heart or stomach.
The treatment is also not recommended straight after twist, sprain or strain.
If you have some skin disease.
People with tendency to bruise easily, bleed excessively or use blood-thinning medication.
People with difficult heart disease.
People who have sunburn, a wound, a skin ulcer, who have experienced recent trauma and an internal organ disorder should also avoid cupping.
Top 5 Best Silicone Massage Cupping Sets
As I already said above, cupping is an ancient form of muscle therapy. However, it’s come into fashion over the past few years with professional athletes and other people seeking alternative massage treatments. The use of silicone for cupping sets is relatively new in the history of cupping therapy. However, it is quickly becoming a go-to choice for massage therapists and consumers who want to have the benefits of massage cupping at their home, so nowadays there are many different types of cupping sets available for various use.
After researching latest cupping devices, we have compiled this list about best massage cupping sets that are suitable for home and professional use.
# 1 Cupping Warehouse TM Supreme 8 Professional and Home Use: Clear Chinese Silicone Massage Cupping Therapy Sets Vacuum Suction Cups
set contains a total of eight cups, in four sizes – 2 X-Large (2.75″), 2 Large (2″), 2 Medium (1.5″), 2 Small (1.25″). Cups are made with high-quality non-absorbent medical silicone material, contain no additives, and are BPA free. This professional cupping set can be used all over your body. The cups are clear, easy to wash and sterilise, making them suitable for multiple users.
It’s important to note that the company provides comprehensive video tutorials online in order to help their customers get the most from their treatment. This set is relatively expensive, but their high quality means they will last long time.
This set is designed to be used as a daily 10-minute cellulite treatment and contains translucent two silicone cups that measure 2” and 3” in diameter. It’s important to note that the cups are not transparent. This means that you cannot see the area you are working on, so you will need to experiment with the cups to discover the best amount of pressure for your skin. Some reviewers say that the cups hurt for the first few days. However, the process becomes more comfortable with time.
This cupping set from Lure Essentials includes 7 pieces of different facial cups and is especially intended to face cupping. It’s considered to be a great starter set.
#4 New Body Life Anti Cellulite Cup with Cellulite Massager
This set contains a large and small silicone cup with diameters of 3.15” and 1.96” respectively made of FDA grade materials. They are completely hypoallergenic and non-toxic. The cups come with an instruction manual and they are presented in a washable cotton bag.
The set also includes a silicone brush, which can be used to further stimulate blood flow to the area. This speeds up breakdown of fatty tissue, gives skin a rosy glow, and exfoliates the skin, leaving a smooth finish.
This beautifully packed and high-quality cupping set is a great gift and is perfect for professional or home massage therapy. Cupping set includes everything you need to start massage cupping at home, including an e-book and several links to cupping techniques. It’s also important to note that the manufacturer offers a 100% money back!