You might have seen it on your favorite celebrities in Hollywood, you might have seen it on strangers walking around, or you may have seen it on patients walking around Oahu Spine and Rehab (OSR). What are these strange circular bruise like marks on everyone? Well they are a result of the latest offering at OSR- Cupping Therapy!
What is cupping you ask? Well according to Tai Hawkins, OSR’s resident acupuncturist, cupping is a modality of therapy that dates as far back as 3000 B.C. in China. Now while China has been given most of the credit for Cupping there is evidence of various forms of cupping in the healing traditions of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The premise however is pretty much the same. Cupping therapy creates a local suction to underlying skin and fascia to promote the movement of blood and lymph. The suction, done either mechanically or with heat, is said to mobilize the blood, promote healing, and relieve myofascial pressure. Some refer to this as the inverse of a massage since we are pulling all of the connective tissue up instead of pressing it down.
People are most familiar with cupping due to the physical markings it leaves behind. Dark bruise-like markings in perfect circles. Though they may look bruise-like they are anything but. These markings are from the stagnant blood and fluids that were trapped in the interstitial spaces of the tissues. When the blood is stagnant it “is no longer functioning as ‘blood’ and becomes a stagnant agency detrimental to health.” The suction pulls the blood and lymph to the surface so it can circulate and metabolize through the body.
You might wonder how blood even becomes stagnant in our body. When there is any trauma to the body from injury, repetitive strain, or excessive exercise, small tears can occur in the deeper layers of the muscle tissue. When the tear occurs blood and fluid can be released into the interstitial spaces of the muscle. This blood and fluid will congeal into sticky glue-like substance. From this adhesions can form and cause pain in the muscles.
At Oahu Spine and Rehab we are now offering Cupping Therapy during our massage sessions. We offer a variety of cupping styles. We have Stationary or Gliding Cupping and might use either or both during your massage session (with your consent). Stationary cups will be left in one location for 5-15 minutes and then we can move it to another location based on what we are seeing come to the surface. Gliding cups will be place on one location and with the help of lotion we will glide it along the muscle structure. The amount of suction and the speed of the gliding will depend on communication with your therapist. We achieve suction through several methods. We have silicone cups that we can easily pinch and achieve suction. We have plastic cups that have a hand pump and pressure valve to achieve suction. And lastly we have glass cups that we use in conjunction with fire to create heat and achieve suction. We may use one or all of these methods during your cupping session depending on what will be most effective.
One thing we will not offer is Wet Cupping. This is a technique very popular abroad in China, the Middle East and even Europe but not so much in the US. Wet Cupping consists of bloodletting with the cups. At Oahu Spine and Rehab we only offer Dry Cupping.
While cupping is wonderful there are some cautions and contraindications for it. For example, we will not cup over open sores or pimples as this can cause some external bleeding. Additionally we will not cup if the patient has metastatic cancer. We will try to avoid bony structures as it is not the most comfortable but at some times might be necessary to get attachment sites of some muscles. Additionally, Chinese medicine will advise against cupping on the sacrum of pregnant women but there are no findings in Western medicine to advise against it.
So, if you are interested in trying out an age old therapy, book a massage with us and mention that you are interested in the cupping. We look forward to introducing you to cuppings with your massage.