What is cupping used for?
Cupping therapy has been used in Chinese medicine for at least 3000 years. Cups were originally made of horn, bamboo, pottery or bronze. More recently they have been made with glass, however, most practitioners now use plastic or silicone cups.
Whilst most people associate cupping with the typical circular bruises that are left after treatment, we don’t believe this is necessary to achieve some of the positive outcomes that cupping can provide. In the physio clinic, our practitioners use cupping as another form of soft tissue therapy and use both plastic and silicone cups.
Cupping provides a “decompressive force”, via the suction of the cup and this is unlike any other form of soft tissue therapy- massage, foam rollers, massage tools or guns all provide a compressive or pushing/pressing force. The “drawing up” of the soft tissues is a very novel stimulus, often something that your nervous system and muscles have not experienced before. This can have a good effect on some people by relaxing tight muscles and reducing pain.
Some forms of cupping can even be done whilst you are moving the affected body part, providing a very focused decompressive stretch to the tissues. This can be a very effective targeted treatment.
In most instances when cupping is done as part of your treatment, there are no visible marks left on the skin as the cupping is done in a focussed manner and only done for a short time. However, some people who bruise easily may get some small areas of discolouration/bruising.
Overall, cupping can be a very effective addition to the traditional soft tissue work that your therapist performs. Like most treatment modalities, everyone responds to different approaches and cupping may be something that could work for you.