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  • Writer's pictureCodi Berry

What is Cupping?

Maybe you've seen people at your gym or swimming pool with those tell-tale red circles on their back and shoulders. From Olympic athletes to Hollywood stars, people are discovering the benefits of cupping.

Cupping is a safe, traditional treatment that helps resolve chronic muscle tightness and pain faster than massage therapy alone. By creating negative pressure, cupping releases rigid soft tissue, drains excess fluids and toxins, loosens adhesions, lifts connective tissue and brings blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles.

Increases circulation - The suction from the cups increases circulation to the area where the cups are placed. The additional blood flow to that area can help relieve muscle tension and promote cell repair.

Encourages tissues to release toxins - Focused blood flow helps your body by flushing built-up metabolic waste/toxins through the lymphatic system. (Your lymphatic system is responsible for eliminating your body’s toxins and waste.

Digestion - Cupping helps to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which increases blood flow to the digestive tract. Gentle massage or cupping over the abdomen also stimulates the insides of your digestive organs. It aids in peristalsis (contractions that push food through your digestive tract), helps clear colon blockages, encourages blood and body-fluid to move through your organs, and helps relieve indigestion.

Help reduce anxiety - When your therapist glides the cups across your skin, your parasympathetic nervous system engages. This promotes deep relaxation to move through your entire body. (Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for slowing your heart rate, assisting in digestion, and increasing intestinal and gland activity.)

At Dogwood Massage, I practice dry cupping using negative pressure massage cupping. Smooth glass or silicone cups are placed on your skin. The cups may be left in one spot, or moved around in a gliding motion. Based on your preference, I can reduce the duration or amount of suction to help prevent red marks.

What about those red marks?? It’s important to understand that the red circular marks left behind by the cups are NOT bruises. Bruises are caused by impact trauma that breaks capillaries in the injured area. But there is NO compression or impact trauma when cupping is done correctly. In fact, cupping does the opposite. Instead of compressing/pushing your skin and muscles, it lifts/pulls your skin and tissues. The red marks are a result of the blood being pulled into that area. Typically the darker the mark, the more stagnant fluids (toxins, blood and lymph) were dredged up during treatment. The marks last anywhere from a few hours to several days.

Cupping after care - Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Give your lymphatic system the extra fluids it needs to flush your body. Keep the areas that were treated covered and warm.

Avoid alcohol. You may feel fatigued or experience slight flu-like symptoms the next day. This is normal. It’s your body processing and expelling the metabolic wastes that were released during your cupping session. Take it easy, get extra rest, and practice good self-care. Your body will thank you!

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