How does it work
Cupping refers to the placing of heated glass, plastic or bamboo cups directly onto the skin. Not to be mistaken for small fish bowls, each cup is heated with a naked flame before being quickly applied to the skin. This creates a vacuum and the suction action draws up the area of skin covered. It’s this pulling on the skin that causes tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help clear veins and arteries, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins – not much then! If you’re thinking it sounds too good to be true, its varied effects can be put down to the fact that cupping can affect up to four inches of tissue making it the most intense deep tissue massage available.
Before your cupping activities commence, massage or baby oil will first be applied to the skin as this helps the cups to be moved and makes it easier for them to be sealed into place which means less heat is needed. Then, once you’ve been oiled up, between 8 and 12 cups will be positioned on your back in two parallel columns, half way between the spine and the edge of the body.
Usually an acupuncturist will perform the treatment as the cups are placed over specific acupuncture points and ‘Meridians’. This is because they act as the flood gates to our energy flow, so if they’re unlocked, energy can run freely through the entire length of the body. It also helps that these power points are located in the more ‘fleshy’ areas of the body and so provide something of a padded barrier between the heated cups and our delicate inner organs. Once applied, the cups will be left in place for between 5 and 20 minutes so don’t be shocked when your skin appears reddened, this will just be down to the congestion of blood flow. You may also experience a similar sensation to sunburn, but there should be no severe discomfort.
When the session is over, pressure is applied to the skin alongside the cup to allow air to leak into the vacuum so it can be released. Afterwards you will experience some bruising which tends to last between a day and a week, but the extremity of it will depend on whether you bruise like a peach or your skin’s as tough as a hippo’s behind.
Is it for me?
Cupping has many therapeutic uses and it is claimed that it can help expel colds and sore throats, relieve neck, shoulder and back tension and remove toxins. Proponents also claim that it can also be used to tackle lung and respiratory diseases as well as thwart digestive disorders, so if your dickey tummy just won’t go away, cupping might be able to flush out your system once and for all.
Good to know
Cupping has been used for more than 3000 years in China. It’s also a popular treatment in celebrity circles.