What is Cupping Treatment? Erin Poovey March 7, 2022

What is Cupping Treatment?

If you can think back to the 2016 Summer Olympics, there was a hefty share of exciting performances, upsets, and photo finishes. But for weeks after Michael Phelps’s appearance, it seemed all anyone could talk about was “cupping.” It was mildly concerning to some (due to the odd red circles all over his back), while other athletes became intrigued by treatment. But what is cupping therapy and why are so many people intrigued by this phenomenon?

An Answer to What Is Cupping Treatment

An ancient therapy designed to relieve tension, cupping has been popular in Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures going back thousands of years, but increasing numbers of people worldwide have been adopting it, especially athletes and celebrities in more recent years.

Here at Camino Massage, we use what is called Myofascial cupping therapy, which helps treat musculoskeletal disorders by using suction to create negative pressure underneath the cup. Originally fire was used to create the suction, but more recently a simple pump is used. The negative pressure helps to decompress the area by lifting the skin and the layer of tissue underneath the skin — the fascia — up into the cup. This treatment creates space for the underlying tight muscle to lay down and relax and helps bring blood flow to the area in need.

The Purpose Behind Cupping Treatment

The Purpose Behind Cupping

Cupping promotes blood flow to the compromised area, enhances circulation and helps to increase the body’s own healing processes — almost like a backward deep tissue massage. But that’s only the beginning.

Cupping has also been used for:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Skin diseases, such as acne and hives
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Migraines
  • Knee arthritis
  • Improving immune function
  • Promoting mobility
  • Decreasing toxins

How does that work? Similar to the pressure of massage, cupping pressure stimulates a reflex response — promoting the release of vaso-activating chemicals (histamines, acetylcholine) that encourage the lumen of blood vessels to dilate and allow for fluids to rush into or through an area more efficiently. Due to their suction pump effect on the body, cups stimulate and enhance the body’s fluid exchange.

Many recent reviews from therapists of the treatment describe cupping as a way to strengthen the body’s resistance, restore balance between positive and negative forces, remove disease-causing factors, and promote blood circulation.

What You Can Expect During a Cupping Session

We believe in the effects of cupping treatment, and many of our clients report reduction in pain within minutes of the treatment.

Like Michael Phelps, you can expect some slight bruising and skin irritation. Cupping draws blood into the specific treatment area, causing some blood vessels to break just beneath the skin. The discoloration of skin should return to normal in just 7-10 days.

We also recommended that our clients avoid swimming or showering within three hours of a cupping session.

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Whether you’re an Olympic athlete or just a Coloradan looking to support your health and wellness with this ancient treatment, we’d be happy to integrate cupping treatment with your selected Camino Massage service!