It is an ancient Chinese medical technique that utilizes small glass cups. The cup is placed in areas of muscle constriction and a vacuum is created within the cup that causes a suction action pulling the muscle tissue inside the cup. Traditionally, fire is used to create the vacuum. Modern cupping devices have been crafted that achieve the same result using a pumping device. Our studio has transitioned into the modern method of cupping as the tool allows for more precision in the treatment.
How does cupping work?
You might be curious about the “cupping marks” that can be an after affect of the cupping? Interestingly enough, these marks are not bruises. It is actually old blood that has been sitting stagnant in the muscle. The cups will actually pull the old blood out of the muscle so that the body can recirculate it. The marks typically take about one week to fade depending on how efficiently your circulatory system is currently working.
Cupping is also used to release muscle tension. If you have an area that is bound up and the muscle just won’t seem to let go no matter how hard you try? We can use cupping to trick the muscle into releasing. Basically, the cup is taking over the body’s job of holding the muscle. As soon as the cup is placed, a message is automatically sent to the brain that something else has taken the job of holding, so it can let go. When the cups are removed, the whole muscle releases. Amazing, right?
Another way we use cupping is to improve blood circulation. When the blood is not circulating through the muscles effectively, pain is inevitable. Injuries are often followed by blood stagnation, which develops into a full on obstruction of blood flow. Cupping can be used to release the obstruction so the blood can begin to flow properly again, relieving the pain.
Cupping is also detoxifying. Along with pulling stagnant blood out of the muscle, toxins that have been building up in the muscle are also released. In my example above, my fever broke because heat and toxins were literally being pulled out of my lungs. It is rare that we would treat something like that in our studio, but every cupping session is detoxifying. It cannot be helped. Which is why it is important that you do not arrive on an empty stomach or you might feel a bit woozy or even ill from the toxin release.
The main reason I like combining cupping therapy with ashiatsu, is the dual action of pushing and pulling on the muscle. The deep tissue pushing of ashiatsu combined with the pulling action of the cupping enhances the results by offering those persistent areas of tension the encouragement they need to release.
What is it used to treat?
Cupping is incredibly effective in treating a wide variety of physical issues. Some of the more common things we treat at Austin Ashiatsu with cupping therapy are: upper and lower back pain, tension headaches and migraines, carpal tunnel, knee pain, stiff neck, sciatica, tennis elbow, rotator cuff injuries and plantar fasciitis.