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What is Cupping? - History, Uses, and Considerations

Updated: Mar 1

Cupping therapy, which is offered with your massage at Jade Oasis Wellness

Many of you who've had a massage with us remember our massage therapists using silicone cups on your back. It can make the massage feel even better! But where did cupping originate from? What are some ailments it can help with?

Well, according to this literature review in the National Library of Medicine by Qureshi (et al.), cupping can trace its origins back thousands of years! That's right, the tradition of cupping therapy was practiced by both the ancient Egyptians and Chinese. Plus, as Lifemark writes, this type of therapy was documented in one of the oldest medical textbooks in history, the Ebers Papyrus from Egypt.

As Qureshi and his colleagues also state, cupping therapy became less used in the 1600s and 1700s, but it's made its comeback in recent years. In fact, Lifemark recalls social media becoming abuzz with the cup marks on Michael Phelps's back from this treatment in 2016. Since then, interest in cupping has taken off!

Cupping has been practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia before this recent development. Additionally, it's used in tradition with many cultures around the world, such as those in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. In Chinese tradition, this therapy works to balance the body's Qi, or life energy. According to SCU Medicine, the cups were traditionally made from bamboo or animal horns. But nowadays, they're made from glass, plastic, or silicone. Suction may be created with the warm air from a flame, or in the case here at Jade Oasis Wellness, by manipulation of the silicone cups.

Sounds painful? Not really, according to our clients (or myself, who's tried cupping as well). It draws blood to the area but doesn't actually cause pain - that would go against the whole point of a healing massage! Instead, its most common use is to treat pain. It's also used to treat inflammation and muscle tightness, as well as improve circulation. Many athletes use cupping therapy to recover from an intense workout, as we saw with Michael Phelps!

Even though cupping is medically safe for most people, there are some conditions that may make it a less than good choice for treatment. If you have a sunburn, an infection, a pacemaker, hemophilia, cancer, or organ failure - cupping may be unsafe. If you're pregnant, you shouldn't have cupping on your abdominal area or lower back. Of course, if you're unsure if cupping therapy is safe for your medical circumstances, you should always speak with your doctor first.

If cupping therapy is a good fit for you, why not come down and try it out - or book another relaxing massage therapy session with us? If you have any questions about cupping, please feel free to call us at (425) 679-6198 or contact us here.

Remember, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

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