Cupping Massage: How Can it Heal and Relieve Pain?

Cupping Massage: How Can it Heal and Relieve Pain?

cupping massage visual

Cupping is an ancient Chinese Medicine Therapy (CMT) that helps stimulate the chi (qi) and remove stagnation. Qi refers to the flow of energy moving through the world, and our bodies. The disruption of the qi can result in imbalances or blockages in our bodies.

What is a cupping massage?

Cupping massage involve placing warm cups, generally glass ones, on top of the skin. A vacuum is made when the air inside the cup becomes warm, so when the cup is placed on the skin, it gets drawn up.

This loosens the connective tissue and improves blood flow. As a result, a cupping massage helps stimulate healing. It works similarly as a deep tissue treatment which helps scar tissue break up to reduce pain. 

The cups are generally placed on a person’s shoulders, neck, back, or any other area of pain. The massage may result in temporary soreness and bruising. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this is actually a positive outcome since it suggests that the massage has been successful in removing toxins.

At the end of the massage, one edge of the cups is lifted to remove them. This lets the air in, breaking the vacuum and seal.

What is the purpose of cupping therapy?

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is the blood and qi stagnation that causes disease and pain. Cupping helps invigorate circulation of blood and qi of the area that is being treated. Thereby, it helps resolve pain, tension, and swelling. It gets rid of toxins by drawing up the impurities. 

From the perspective of Western physiology, cupping loosens the connective tissue. It stimulates blood flow near the surface of the skin. It also improves cell-to-cell communication and encourages tissue relaxation. Helene Langevin, a U.S. acupuncturist and physiologist, has documented changes occurring at a cell-level via an ultrasound camera. She proves that therapies like massage, acupuncture, and cupping reduce inflammation and relax tissue.

"How can I benefit from cupping?"

The major benefits of cupping are local muscle relaxation and pain relief. Cupping boosts overall health as it removes any energy blockages. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners believe these prevent a healthy flow of qi or energy. For professional athletes, cupping can help boost blood flow towards a certain muscle region.

What conditions can a cupping massage help treat?

Traditionally, cupping helps treat various lung disorders, such as bronchial congestion, asthma, and cough. It’s also often used for pain, digestive complaints, and paralysis.

The type of cupping massage that is performed depends on the issue, as well as the acupuncturist’s treatment goals. The therapy also involved different kinds of cups. These days mostly glass cups are utilized. However, a couple thousands of years ago, cups made of clay, animal horns, or bamboo were used for the treatment.