The Art of Cupping

I like to think of cupping as a little slice of healing heaven for the mind and body. It has a multitude of applications and there is something for nearly everyone with this therapy, even for the kids! Cupping has become somewhat popular in the media with sports figures and celebrities, but it has ancient roots and deep therapeutics embedded within it that soothe the body, calm the mind and provide relief for an array of discomforts, both physical and emotional.

My most favorite and joy-filled observation of cupping is how quickly and effectively it engages the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) which initiates a cascade of therapeutic benefits. Recipients of cupping most notably recognize this shift as a sensation of a melting away of stress and tension as they wander out of the treatment room with a glow on their cheeks and a sway in their walk. Patients often remark how relaxed, calm and light they feel after this treatment.

Whether you are looking for relaxation and calm (think stress and overwhelm), a nervous system ‘reset’ (think anxiety, fatigue or mitigation of stress induced symptoms) or to target something specific on the body (think tension, spasm, injury) and face (think puffiness, dull/dry complexion, acne, TMJ problems, headache, brow tension), this is one of my favorite treatments and here are some of the more technical highlights for you to consider.

How does it work?

This non-invasive therapy employs negative pressure or suction at various depths in order to release rigid soft tissue, mobilize and drain excess fluids, move toxins, loosen adhesions and bring nutrient rich blood flow to stagnant regions. It positively impacts skin, fascia, muscles, joints and the circulatory, nervous and digestive systems. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is also used to balance the meridians of the body and their respective internal organs, as well as bolster the immune system.

Will I have bruises from cupping?

The most common misconception concerning cupping is the misinterpretation of the temporary marks that sometimes result from the treatment. These discolorations are not bruising! The color, shade, shape and speed with which they appear are all indications of the state of a patient’s vital energy (Qi or chi) and blood circulation. Stagnation of these vital resources correlates to sluggish circulation of blood, fluid, lymphatics and levels of buildup of cellular waste. These marks allow a traditionally trained acupuncturist to peer through the diagnostic window to your health so that the most beneficial treatment can be achieved by employing different techniques to bring the body back into balance. While cupping marks can look painful, they are generally not. Patients typically feel immediate sense of relief, warmth and increased circulation in these regions. Treatments are cumulative and marks will occur less and less as a result of improving circulation.

Therapeutic Benefits of Body Cupping

To name a few, general benefits of cupping are both physical and emotional as it is highly relaxing, energetically rejuvenating and overall body balancing. Cupping can relieve discomfort from muscular spasms, tension, stress, headaches and menstrual pain. It can help restore muscular and joint function, target specific injuries, relieve repetitive strain and help smooth the appearance of cellulite. Cupping is a wonderful recovery therapy for sports and an excellent aid for general body detoxification.

Facial Cupping Benefits

Gentle, anti-aging and NON-MARKING, this method reduces tension and tightness, increases local circulation of nutrient rich blood to the skin, enhances absorption of facial topicals, encourages drainage of stagnant fluids, reduces areas of puffiness, gently plumps and gives a healthy glow.

What about the kids?

Kids quite like the experience of cupping. It is a great way to introduce early methods of self and health awareness while providing a generalized benefit of calming the nervous system and aiding with relaxation. They tend to settle in nicely on the table while their preferences for cupping depth and sensation are catered to. Most kids remark that they can feel a difference before and after in their level of relaxation. Parents have remarked that it helps with hyperactivity, anxiety, concentration, and generally helping to calm other jagged little energies that kids sometimes have trouble articulating.

Blending Ancient Principles with a Modern Approach

This treatment can be provided with acupuncture, facial acupuncture, children’s needleless acupuncture or used as a standalone treatment to deliver results. A variety of techniques are utilized depending on treatment goals and methods are modified to meet individual needs and comfort levels. I love to blend principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine cupping with modern techniques in order to provide the most comfortable, relaxing and therapeutic experience for your body.

Vanessa Pettit, Registered Acupuncturist

Our Registered Acupuncturist and Doctor of TCM Vanessa Pettit has a focus on aligning the physical and emotional well-being of her patients. She has a keen interest in whole body rejuvenation and healthy aging from the inside out. She is a strong advocate for stress reduction and proper nutrients in order to improve immunity, sleep, energy, hormones, fertility and digestive functions. You can read more about Vanessa here.


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