Cupping Massage Therapy Explained

cupping treatment at a spa

Cupping may not be glamorous body therapy, but it is effective!

At Body Balance Pleasanton, massage therapy options include numerous modalities, or styles, of hands-on wellness treatments including cupping massage. Many clients are curious about the different treatments our massage therapists specialize in, so this post is the first in a series that go more in depth into each massage therapy you can receive at Body Balance.

What is Cupping and Cupping Massage?

Cupping is an ancient technique of body therapy that uses suction to achieve various results:

  • relieve tension
  • break up soft tissue adhesions
  • increase circulation
  • help flush out stagnant fluids and toxins
  • reduce inflamation

Put another way, cupping helps unstick stuck areas, and get things moving. Among the many benefits people experience are relief from headaches, back pain, tight shoulders, and scar tissue buildup.

For a traditional cupping treatment, a therapist uses a specially designed glass, silicone, or plastic cup-like tool and suctions it to the affected part of your body. The therapist creates the suction in various ways: by an attached machine, with a pump, or with fire (don’t worry, the fire doesn’t ever touch you!). The therapist leaves the cup or cups for about four to ten minutes, and then releases the suction to remove them.

Cupping massage is very similar standard cupping, except that, instead of leaving the suctioned cup in place, the therapist gently moves the cup along an affected area. This helps further stimulate circulation, healing, and tissue mobility. Many people find it comparable to a deep tissue massage.

Does Cupping Hurt?

Cupping does not hurt. In photos, cupping does look a bit strange and like it might not feel great. But most people describe the sensation as a moderately strong pulling up of the skin and underlying tissue. If you’ve ever held a vacuum hose against your skin, you’ve got a good sense of what cupping feels like. When you receive cupping massage, you may experience an increase in sensation as the suction travels across particularly tight or stuck areas, but it should never be to the point of being painful.

If Cupping Doesn’t Hurt, Why Does It Leave Marks that Look Like Bruises?

Cupping leaves distinctive round marks, formed by where the cupping device creates its suction. If you get cupping massage, you’ll likely see similar discoloration along the path the suction follows. While these look like bruises, they’re not.

A result of an impact on soft tissues, bruises are formed by broken blood vessels. And they’re tender or painful to the touch. The cause of cupping discoloration is from pulling up stagnant fluid, dead cells, and other waste products and toxins. Inasmuch as the results appear similar, they’re actually signs of opposite forces at work: bruises are indications of injury, and cupping indicates healing.

This short video gives an overview of a cupping treatment. And it reiterates the difference between bruises and the detoxification cupping brings about:

Curious About Cupping Massage at Body Balance?

Of course, the best way to learn about a massage therapy modality is to give it a try. You’re also welcome to contact us to ask questions and learn more about cupping massage or any of our other wellness treatments. We say it often because it’s true: at Body Balance personal training, nutrition, and massage therapy in Pleasanton, our passion is your well-being. How can we help you on your wellness path?

Cherie Turner

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