The ancient practice of cupping therapy is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in recent times and we are starting to use it more frequently in our treatments here at Active Physio.
Cupping therapy uses plastic cups that are placed on the skin that apply a local area of suction to the skin. The practitioner uses a hand pump to create a vacuum in the cup that causes the skin to lift i.e. suction. It is the inverse of massage in many ways, pulling the muscles and other soft tissues upwards rather than pressing down and compressing them. It causes increased circulation in the area and provides space for waste products and toxins to be released from the area. There are two methods of cupping that we use in clinic:
Fixed Cupping therapy
This is where the cups are placed on a certain spot on your body and then left in place. Depending on how long the cups are left in place will depend on your condition and your comfort. Fixed cupping can cause the skin in the treated area to temporarily turn red, purple or blue. This is rarely painful but the skin discoloration can last a few days.
Moving Cupping therapy
This is where a massage oil or wax is applied to the skin first and then suction cups are moved around the area of the body to be treated. The oil/wax lubricates the surface of the skin allowing the cups to slide easily around the treatment area.
Cupping is most commonly used in our treatments for back and shoulder conditions and is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as acupuncture and manual therapy to give our patients maximum benefit.