It’s not unusual to see celebrities walking around with round bruises on their backs and necks these days. But the ‘giant hickey’ phenomenon is far from new, and don't worry, it's not painful or damaging! For thousands of years traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have applied vacuums to the skin to help loosen tension and removing pathogenic influences. It has benefits on circulation, the lymphatic system and the energy state of the body.
What to expect from cupping
Cupping involves placing a glass or plastic cup on the skin and creating a vacuum by sucking out the air. You will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup that is also relaxing and soothing. The skin will bruise superficially leaving purple or red spheres that diminish in a few days or weeks. But this ‘drawing out’ is exactly what stimulates the circulatory and lymphatic systems to bring a flow back where there had been blockage of Qi and/or Blood. Cupping is often used to relieve muscle pain or tension, and can be useful for asthma, colds, anxiety, fatigue, hypertension, facial paralysis and immune and digestive conditions.
The cups will be directly applied to the affected areas for musculoskeletal aches and pains. For other treatments the back and neck tend to be used. Cupping is normally an adjunct to acupuncture. It can also open up areas of deep tightness before massage. There are several techniques. The two most common are "fixed cupping" and "moving cupping." Fixed cups typically stay in place from 5 to 25 minutes. Moving cupping is like a massage with cups. Oil is applied to the skin so the practitioner can slide them to different areas while suction is maintained.
I'll advise you when I think cupping will be useful. But cupping can benefit anyone at any time by enhancing balance and flow so if you are curious give it a go! I can incorporate it into an acupuncture/massage session.