Cupping Massage? What Is That?
by Winona Mondor
Cupping is an ancient therapy that has been around for thousands of years. Evidence of the use of cups has been found on Canada’s west coast in the form of shells. In other cultures, hollowed out horn and bamboo, or glass was used. The ancients used cups that create a negative vacuum pressure for many reasons, most commonly to treat pain, inflammation, and swelling. Lung infections were common and deadly and cups were used to open the chest and move secretions. Cupping was widely used throughout the world, including Canada, until the advent of antibiotic use during World War I.
Today, cupping is becoming widely available to the massage client and is being accepted as a great and effective therapy to treat muscular and joint pain, poor circulation, and for beauty applications such as facial and cellulite treatments. Massage therapists with training can reduce the recovery time of many painful issues, using modern plastic and silicone cups.
I liken a painful hardened stiff muscular area and its surrounding fascia (connective tissue) that is riddled with knotty trigger points, to a hardened granny sponge that is hard, unmovable, and dirty. This is what a painful tight tissue is like. The muscle cells are not firing properly and are locked, there is no circulation getting to the area to bring fresh oxygen-rich blood to let it heal and relax. Waste is accumulating and the area becomes harder and more painful to move, or it starts to lose feeling altogether and gets numb or tingly.
Cupping is the ideal treatment because of its multiple effects. It pulls fresh circulation of energy (Qi) and blood into the area which softens and hydrates while bringing in new nutrients to heal. Cups stretch the tissues to pull them out of their static state, unlocking the muscle fibres and fascia. While this is happening, the wastes are being pulled to the skin surface, the offending lactic acid and cellular by-products that have been trapped are now brought to the skin level to be carried away by our body’s biggest organ of elimination. The marks that sometimes can be caused during a strong cupping session are not bruises but the toxins being pulled out. Up to 87 percent of wastes can be pulled out in the first session if strong stationary methods are used. There is an old Chinese saying, “You have colour, you will feel better.” If cup kisses are a concern, a trained therapist will know different techniques to reduce or eliminate longer-lasting marks.
As an acupuncturist, registered massage therapist, and registered nurse, I teach and practice cupping as a primary therapy, and often it is my first choice to treat muscular and joint pain, because cups are non-invasive, quick, and highly effective. I will choose a cup before an acupuncture needle to get the job done. All pain and disease in Chinese medicine is primarily due to the stagnation of Qi and blood and the cup is a true gift from the ancients to move and open our tissues and bodies to health again.
Winona Mondor, RN, DAc, RMT, has been practicing massage and acupuncture since 1996 and has been teaching Professional Cupping to massage therapists and wholistic practitioners across Canada. For more information on workshops being offered, see her website: www.cuppingmassage.ca or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, see the display ad on page 16 of the 19.6 March/April issue of the WHOLifE Journal.