17 Dec 2019
Have you ever noticed those random purple marks many athletes or celebrities occasionally have on their bodies? I have seen Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston proudly don their red marks on the red carpet! Those marks are from a practice called cupping.
Cupping is an ancient technique in which therapists use special cups on your skin to create a suction effect. This suction draws circulation to the surface and may leave temporary purple marks from the increase of blood flow being drawn superficially.
This suction and negative pressure effect is used to encourage blood flow, loosen muscles and myofascial tissue. The myofascial system is a network of connective tissue throughout our body that connects the skin to muscles and surrounds our organs. The distraction and suction of tissue can help to stretch and release this connective tissue. It is commonly used to relieve pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, radiating pain, and inflammation in our bodies.
The cups may be made of glass, bamboo, earthenware, or most commonly, silicone. The technique dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C.
The practice of cupping work to draw the skin, muscle and connective tissue away from each other. The cups may be used directly over a tight muscle band, in an area of chronic inflammation, or along nearby tissue to release tension, encourage circulation, and reduce inflammation at those locations. Cupping has also been used to help speed healing from a nasty cold, cough or allergy symptoms. It has been shown to help boost immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body.
Poor circulation can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body. This build up can be the root cause of many different health conditions. Cupping can help to reduce stagnation in our body. This increase in blood flow to an area also brings nutrients, platelets, white blood cells and fibroblasts to aid in healing. This technique helps to release muscle knots and scar adhesions which can help with those stubborn injuries that seem to plateau. Many athletes and weekend warriors have found benefit from this therapy with aiding their body to faster recover from workout sessions.
If you are interested in trying cupping or have a stubborn injury that just isn’t getting better, the therapists at Two Hands Physiotherapy would love to help you out!
Jennifer Gordon (BScPT, CCRT, AFCI, GIMS)
Physiotherapist / Canine Rehab Therapist
Two Hands Physiotherapy / The Canine Fitness Centre