Silicone Cupping gained popularity during the Olympics when Michael Phelps’ swimming photos went viral with pink round marks on his shoulders. Without knowing much more about it, you might fall into one of two schools of thought….1: “That looks weird. Not for me!” or 2: “There must be something to that technique if this Olympic swimmer is having it done to him…curious…”

What is Cupping

I recently became certified in massage silicone cupping and thought I could clear up some questions about what is going on with this new cupping trend. First of all, there is nothing new about it. Cupping has been around for thousands of years in cultures like China, Egypt, Greece, and Iran. And for the most part, it was employed as a tool to help alleviate musculoskeletal conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that cups can facilitate the flow of “QI” in the body or your life force. Cups physically create a vacuum on a person’s skin, or reverse pressure away from the body which pulls up on tight, deep muscle tissue. This process then releases any stagnant blood and lymph to flow freely. Once you increase your body’s circulation this way,  you also help move oxygen and nutrients to all  those tight muscles to feed them and promote healing and detox….Sounds good, right?

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“…silicone cups can be used stationary on a focused area or in motion…”

There are a variety of cupping techniques out there: fire cupping, wet cupping, and dry cupping. Cups can be made out of hard plastic, glass, or silicone. The softer, pliable silicone cups are more popular with massage therapy because, unlike other types of traditional cupping, silicone cups can be used stationary on a focused area or in motion (stroking sweeps around a tight area of the body). Since they are soft, the therapist can control the degree of suction on a client’s skin.  This allows them to adjust the intensity level. If you prefer light pressure massage, you can still benefit from the effects of cupping as well!

So, What About Those Pink Spots

Now you might be wondering about those strange pink circles left behind. They aren’t actually bruises because as we understand it, bruises hurt. The painless pink spots are just the stagnant blood being pulled to the surface of your skin. Most spots disappear within minutes as your  body’s circulation flows it back into your system. Some spots might last longer just because they have a tendency to carry that blood away more slowly. If you’re going to the beach or a fancy spaghetti strap occasion, just let your therapist know, so they can avoid cupping in that area.

Now that you know so much about cupping… give it a try! Loosen up those stubborn tight areas! Shoulders, calves, quads, low back….you name it….Let your therapists employ all the tools in their toolbox, those extra hands (OR CUPS!!), and embark on a pain-free summer!

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