The Women's Journal

The Therapeutic Art Of Cupping

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By Nancy Hawkins Rigg,
Founder and Owner, Forever Fit Foundation

Michael Phelps, in his last Olympics (2016), was cupped to help improve his performance. The purple circles located on his back from the Cupping drew a lot of attention in popular culture. Everyone was curious and talking about this strange new therapy. You may be surprised to learn Cupping has been around since 1,000 B.C. It has been a traditional part of Sports Therapy in the Olympics for much of its history. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates was a huge advocate of the tremendous benefits derived from Cupping.

What is Cupping?

Cupping is a therapy that employs negative pressure, which is basically suction, rather than tissue compression. Cups are applied to the skin and a suction is created pulling the skin up. The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system, thus allowing a deep relaxation to move through the entire body. Another benefit of negative pressure is that it really feels great.   

What are the Therapeutic Benefits of Cupping?  

Cupping pulls stagnation out of tissues and brings it to the skin level. The suction of the cups rapidly facilitates rigid soft tissue release by pulling it up and away from underlying structures, thus loosening areas of adhesion or restriction. Contracted, congested tissue structures will soften quickly. There is an increased local blood supply to the muscles and skin which brings nourishment to the tissues and allows for toxins to be carried away via the circulatory system. Cupping affects all the body’s systems as well as being a great stress & insomnia reliever.  

What conditions and injuries benefit from Cupping? 

Cupping is very beneficial for many conditions such as: high blood pressure, diabetes, sciatica, insomnia, colon disorders, anxiety, fatigue, poor circulation, edema, sports injuries, cellulite, nervous tension, chronic headache, fibromyalgia, neuralgia and menstrual problems. It is suitable for the treatment of pain, diseases of the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems, some skin conditions, weak muscles and the common cold. Injuries such as sprains and strains, IT band syndrome, shoulder & hip conditions, groin pain, Achilles tendinitis, low back issues, compartment and medial tibial stress syndrome name just a few examples. 

What are the discolorations that sometimes occur during treatments?

The most common and unfortunate misconception concerning Cupping is the misinterpretation of the marks sometimes resulting from the treatment.  These discolorations are not bruises.

The vacuum formed by Cupping creates a suction. This suction pulls toxic & stagnant fluids from deep in the tissues to the surface of the skin. This causes the appearance from a dark purple-black to a light pink, but is usually a shade of red circles on the area treated. The discolorations fade from hours up to 2 weeks, depending on the amount of stagnation. The length of time it takes for it to fade indicates the severity and toxicity of the individual’s condition. As treatments accumulate, marks will occur less and less. This is a direct result of stagnation, debris and toxins being expelled from the body.

Suction cup therapy is a traditional, time-honored treatment that remains favored by millions of people worldwide because it’s safe, comfortable and remarkably effective for many health disorders. The value and efficacy of this therapy has been documented through several thousand years of historical, clinical and subjective research. Cupping has reemerged in the Western Holistic Community as a subtle, remarkably effective healing therapy. At Forever Fit, we perform 9 different types of Cupping Therapy.  

Nancy Hawkins Rigg is the Founder and Owner of Forever Fit Foundation, a personal training business specializing in Pilates, Gyrotonic, Gyrokinesis, Yamuna Body Rolling and sport specific training. Forever Fit Foundation accepts clients at three sites: Dover and Rehoboth, Del., and Mendenhall Station, Pa., just over the Delaware line. A certified athletic trainer, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and her master’s degree in exercise science and sports medicine from Miami University in Ohio. Please call (302) 423-1816 or (302) 698-5201 to schedule an appointment or for more information.