cupping (ba Guan)

What is Cupping?

By placing a glass or a plastic cup onto the skin, the therapist creates a vacuum in the cup which draws the skin, muscle, and fascia up into the cup. This vacuum can be created with either a hand suction pump or a burning cotton wool ball. The latter is becoming less common in modern therapy due to the relative lack of control on the suction.

In Western medicine, Cupping is used as a direct clinical application. The therapist notes an area of restriction and applies the suction directly onto it to affect change. This is different to traditional Eastern methods which rely on affecting change in the line of meridians or “Qi” throughout the body. Used in conjunction with other massage treatments, Cupping is a useful tool to add into the treatment mix as it provides a different sensation and effectiveness, and thereby improving the overall results.

Cupping is used in the treatment of many types of muscle tensions, including common ailments such as neck pain, shoulder pain, tight trapezius, lower back pain, spinal congestion, and plantar fasciitis.

The Benefits of Cupping

  • Relaxation: suction cups provide a negative pressure on the skin, muscles, and fascia. This is in contrast to the positive pressure of the deep tissue massage, and can be a very relaxing and soothing experience. 
  • Promotes blood circulation speeds up muscle recovery. The negative pressure from the suction allows new blood to flow into that area of tissue with several benefits –
    1. Provides a feeling of relief from physical and emotional tensions
    2. Begins the healing and regeneration process – the exchange of blood allows the removal of toxins and dead cells
    3. Enhances circulation
    4. Warms the skin, and softens tissues to regain elasticity
    5. Reduces inflammation