Cupping captured worldwide attention when swimmer Michael Phelps appeared at the 2016 Olympics seemingly either afflicted by a gross and outlandish looking case of measles, or having lived up to a bet of agreeing to have large purple circles tattooed all over his body.
Of course, neither of these were true, and Phelps and other Olympic competitors were taking advantage of a form of healing thousands of years old. Cupping uses the force of suction (negative pressure) against the body to draw blood and fluid to the surface to create stimulation, relax muscles, and ease pain.
Image courtesy of: irenesanchezcelis
Here’s an explanation of the basic therapeutic technique from the International Cupping Therapy Association:
“Massage Cupping is the combination of massage movements and negative pressure with the use of a suction device on the skin. A cup is positioned at the area to be treated and, depending on the type of cups being used; a vacuum is created within the cup to draw the skin and underlying tissue into the cup. The produced vacuum creates a suction effect that increases blood and lymphatic circulation systemically and to the local area, relaxes muscle tissue and support, draws stagnation, pathogenic factors and toxins out of the body and releases a myriad of pain causing factors.”
“Cupping therapy is a 3,000-year old healing modality that was developed by different cultures across the world. The earliest accounts of the practice of cupping therapy and its many benefits emerged from China though researchers are still unsure if travelers carried it to other countries from the point of origin. Called by different names, healers have used cupping to treat various ailments ranging from musculoskeletal, dermal, and digestive to psychological conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety. The therapy can also be used to treat physical illnesses that result from mental stress and anxiety.”