If you've been watching TV at all lately you've probably caught at least some of the Olympics, featuring some Olympians sporting some super gnarly and scary looking purple circles all over their bodies... No they aren't mutating... they are cupping.
Cupping is a Chinese medicine technique in which heated cups are applied in a twisting motion to the skin, creating a suction cup of sorts onto the body. The suction is supposed to help the energy and blood flow more freely, allowing muscles to soothe and ease. Olympians are probably cupping to get the blood flow going, ease the sore muscles, and preform their best!
HOW DO THE CUPS STICK TO YOUR SKIN?
When I had cupping done, the acupuncturist lit a flame inside of the cup to help it create a suction on my skin, some have cups that have a pump to do the suction. The research on cupping is all over the place, some say it works, some say it doesn't. The biggest benefit of cupping is relief of muscle tension.
DOES IT SCAR?
I've had cupping done from 5 minutes to 45 minutes. Although the marks look pretty scary sometimes (I used to get it done really high up on my traps/neck area and clients would freak out a little thinking I was getting beaten!), the marks don't scar or last super long (the most a week).
I've had cupping done consistently over a 4 month period. The first few weeks these marks were dark, like Michael Phelps in the photo dark. As I did it more and longer, the circles became lighter (picture below).
The way it was explained to me, is the darker circles means more muscle tension and more stagnant blood flow in that area.
BUT, WAIT DOES IT HURT?
Well at first it feels cool, then it feels like someone stuck a vacuum cleaner on you. Then it kind of tingles and aches. Then it kind of hurts, but the way that a really deep good massage hurts. I usually had to go waitress the night I had cups on me during the day, and let me tell you, working up a sweat after cupping is something I would avoid for 24 hours! My shirt would get so itchy on my back, which was honestly the worst part. However, the mild discomfort is well worth it in my opinion if you are looking for some relief.
If you're looking for something new to add to your wellness regimen or have stiff/sore muscles definitely give it a go!
Have you done cupping? Do you like it?