In the past few days there has been a lot of talk around olympic athletes such as Michael Phelps and Alex Naddour exposing their round shaped purple marks. To many people, this form of therapy is new and considered a fad. However, Cupping Therapy has been around for thousands of years. It originated in China around the same time as Acupuncture, this therapy is considered another modality that Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners can use to treat a patient.
Cupping Therapy can be used to treat many conditions, nowadays however, it has become a popular addition to acupuncture for localized pain on shoulders, back, and legs. Cupping also has the function of improving blood circulation, increasing the detoxifying properties of the lymphatic system, and aiding digestion. This therapy can also be beneficial for dispersing excess mucus in lungs. Olympic Athletes have also used Cupping to help rebound their sore muscles after intense workouts.
The method of cupping can vary from stationary cupping to sliding cupping. Stationary cupping is used locally on the spots that are being affected or in pain. With the use of cupping there is a chance that it will cause around, purplish mark, especially if there is a pain associated in that area. Sliding cupping is thought of as a reverse massage, instead of putting pressure on an area the suction cup pulls up the area and allows the fascia to be loosened. This type of cupping feels closely to a deep tissue massage.
Since marks are a common resulting effect you will notice that some areas have a deep purple mark and others might have a slight red color. In traditional chinese medicine we view the colors as an important indicator about what is going on in the body. The deep purple colors indicate that there is a severe stagnation in the area. In Traditional Chinese Medicine pain is usually characterized by a qi and blood stagnation. Meaning that there is something causing the normal flow of the meridians to be blocked. The blockage in return causes the patient to have a symptom of pain, and that is our indicator of how to treat the patient as a whole rather than just a specific area.
The Cupping marks do not fall under the term bruise because of the way a bruise is formed. When an injury occurs the body responds to the impact by blood rushing to the area to help with healing. As a result, the patient will feel pain in that area. When cupping is done, there is no pain associated with the therapy and the action of the suction cups are considered pulling out toxins from the body to the surface. After a treatment plan, patients will begin to significantly notice the color change from dark purple to a light right color. The marks are usually visible for 3 -5 days. If cupping therapy is done, it also recommended to cover the marks, because cupping therapy has opened up the body to get rid of toxins and move qi and blood, the body is now more susceptible for external pathogens to be picked up.