If you are watching the Olympics you may wonder what those dark red rings on some athletes’ bodies are. These red ring marks are a result of cupping therapy, which is part of a Chinese medicine practitioner’s toolbox.
So what is cupping?
Cupping is a therapeutic intervention, often performed as part of a Chinese medicine treatment. It can be a treatment modality on its own or used in conjunction with acupuncture. Special glass cups are placed on the body. The vacuum is created by drawing air out of the cups either by holding a flame in the cup before placing it on the body, or by a sucking action to draw the air out. This vacuum sucks the skin and underlying tissues up into the cup, thus increasing circulation in that area.
It looks painful
Cupping and the resulting ring marks are not painful. Once the cup is on the body you may feel a pulling sensation as the skin and tissues are drawn into the cup. We can control how strongly we place the cup on the body and will always make sure you are comfortable with the treatment.
The discoloration that occurs can vary from very light pink to almost purple red and often is a sign of how much tension there is in that part of the body. As athletes train hard they are likely to have more tension in their muscles and this causes the marks to be darker and more visible. Usually the markings will disappear within 5 days of treatment.
What is it used for?
Cupping helps relax tense and painful muscles and joints and can also be used for sciatica and frozen shoulder. It is also beneficial for common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis.