Cupping therapy is a modality in which silicon or plastic cups are applied to the skin to create a suction effect over an area of soreness. It is a folk medicine technique that has been used all over the world to treat pain and mild illnesses especially in rural areas where traditional medical facilities are lacking. Cupping is used to relieve muscle tension and pain, and reduce inflammation. It stimulates the circulatory and lymphatic systems to help the body heal itself. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’s use of cupping therapy in the 2012 Summer Olympics propelled its popularity in the United States.
Cupping therapy is the opposite of massage therapy in that the suction created by the cups separates the epidermis and fascia to allow for blood and lymph flow. In massage therapy, tissues are manipulated and fluids pumped through the body. Cupping is especially effective in treating areas of inflammation and areas painful to the touch. Cupping therapy can also be used to increase blood flow to help relieve stubborn trigger points.
Cupping skin marks are produced by the negative pressure or suction effect inside the cup. Many factors can determine the cupping marks such as level of cupping pressure, patient’s health, and time that the cups are applied. Marks can vary from a very light pink hue to a deep purplish hue and usually disappear within a few days.
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