What is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin. Through suction, the skin is drawn into the cup by creating a vacuum in the cup placed on the skin over the targeted area. The vacuum can be created either by the heating and subsequent cooling of the air in the cup or a mechanical pump. The cup is usually left in place for somewhere between five and fifteen minutes.
It is believed to help treat pain, deep scar tissues in the muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots, and swelling
Cupping has been made more prominent recently as seen in the RIO 2016 Olympics, famously with the swimmer Michael Phelps and the purple blotches.
This technique has been around since the age of acupuncture where it derives from. The research is slim but there can be some conclusions drawn from the research done within acupuncture itself
How does cupping therapy work?
Clinically, there is a stretch effect to the tissue as well as a pooling of blood under the skin where the vacuum is formed. We can use this response to alter tissue tone, aid tissue recovery and promote healing. It is not a stand alone treatment but along side other tissue techniques, can be effective in regaining joint and muscle range.
Cupping Therapy does come under the heading of ‘alternative treatment’, however, it can beneficial where other traditional techniques may fail for one reason or another. For example:
”In a recent case study, a client had back pain following a disc injury for 2 years. He was still very active and had a number of different approaches but with only short lasting effects. His management then went on to podiatry to try and correct a possible leg length shortening. After 6 months, his back symptoms were the same with ongoing morning stiffness and restriction.
He was seen by one of our team and his main issue was shortening through one side of his spine as well as a torsion caused by a hyper extending knee. Along with acupuncture and soft tissue stretching, we used cupping to try and release his deep fascial attachments. 3 sessions later, his leg length had corrected and his orthotic devices were no longer needed. his spine was much more supple, his morning restriction was much improved and he is now on a spinal strengthening programme.”
Cupping is included, where appropriate, in any physiotherapy treatment