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Unlocking Wellness: The A-List Guide to Cupping Therapy

In the realm of wellness practices, cupping has transcended its ancient origins to become the darling of celebrities and athletes alike. From Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop empire to Michael Phelps’ toned physique, cupping has graced the limelight, leaving curious souls wondering what the fuss is all about.

Cupping is not just for celebs! I have been “cupping” for years. This is one of the top ways I find to destress and relax, plus relieve the inevitable shoulder and neck tension that comes with a stressful job. 

Let’s take a dive into this ancient therapeutic art, exploring its origins, the experience, and the multitude of benefits it offers.

What is Cupping, Anyway?

Cupping, an ancient Chinese therapy dating back thousands of years, involves placing specialized cups on the skin to create a suction effect. These cups, typically made of glass or silicone, draw the skin upwards, stimulating blood flow and promoting healing. This age-old technique is now widely available, with practitioners offering their expertise in spas, wellness centers, and even at-home kits for the adventurous souls.

Cupping can still be fashionable – and healing. By Release Physical Therapy,

Cupping’s Benefits

Cupping has an array of physical and mental benefits – even if you are not an athlete, or have not set foot in a gym, for that matter. If you have any type of desk job, you probably have a ton of trapped stress and pinched nerves in your body that you have no idea even exist. And if you do start to feel the aches and pains, it can be really distracting from your job and from your life, for that matter.

Healing injury

If you do enjoy sports or working out, then you know that injury or overuse soreness sort of comes with the territory. The best part about cupping is that it draws the blood away from the tight muscles and joints that are “stuck” together and forces it to the top of the skin layer. This creates those famous circles (that go away in a matter of days). This allows a massive infusion of circulation to those areas and unlocks the tightness with fresh blood as the old damaged tissue fades.

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Detoxification takes center stage as cupping aids in flushing out toxins and promoting lymphatic drainage. Pain relief is another big plus, with the therapy often alleviating muscle tension, joint pain, and even migraines (all of which are a thing for me). Stress relief is also an unexpected bonus. It literally feels like the weight of the world is lifted off of your shoulders.

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Where the Magic Happens: Cupping Hotspots

If you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of cupping, finding a reputable practitioner is key. While many spas offer the service, I recommend getting cupping from a licensed acupuncturist or physical therapist. If you are in the DC area, try Release Physical Therapy.

Or if you are into acupuncture, or want to give it a try, I go to Summit Healing Arts .

Cupping is also offered at spas and med spas, but I personally would at least start somewhere with more clinical expertise.

The Sensation of Suction: How Cupping Feels

Now, let’s talk about the experience itself. As the cups adhere to your skin, you’ll feel a gentle pulling sensation that ranges from relaxing to mildly intense. The cups remain in place for a short duration, during which you may experience a soothing warmth or tingling sensation. While the idea of circular marks might seem daunting, they are merely evidence of increased blood flow and are generally painless.

In many cases, when you work with a PT, there are also some moving exercise. This helps the tissue surrounding the muscles become more soft and supple. 

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A Word to the Wise: Cupping do’s and don’ts

While cupping can be a transformative experience, timing is everything. It’s advisable to schedule your cupping session well in advance of any major events, as the circular marks can take a few days to fade. As savage as it might look at first, the marks fade relatively quickly. I would definitely make sure if you have a vacation or event like a wedding coming up (especially ladies) to cup two weeks ahead of time. 

So definitely no cupping before black tie or wedding events!

Complements to cupping

You can elevate the benefits of cupping with other Eastern medicine remedies like gua sha and acupuncture. I have written about both topics in past blogs which you can read more about here.

At the end of the day, all of these practices are about moving lymph through your body and freeing up your cells to absorb more nutrients and shed the old “buildup” of fascia and toxins. All with little to no effort – but a lot of great results.

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