Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available; it is a therapy that comes from Chinese medicine, and it is much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within the tissue. Hands, wrists, legs, and ankles can be ‘cupped,’ thus applying the healing to specific organs that correlate with these points.
In a cupping massage treatment, small glass cups are placed on the skin. There are several ways that a practitioner can create the suction in the cups. Like acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians or energy lines within the body. There are five meridian lines on the back, and these are where the cups are usually placed. Using these points, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific illnesses and symptoms. By targeting the meridian channels, cupping strives to ‘open’ these channels – the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs, thus providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi (life force). .
Once the suction has occurred, the cups can be gently moved across the skin (often referred to as ‘gliding cupping). The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. . Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes.
The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite.