Have you seen someone recently with big dark, perfectly shaped circular “hickies” on his or her skin? Don’t worry, those aren’t hickies, or bruises, or the result of a monster octopus attack. Those are cupping marks.
Cupping is an adjunctive technique used in acupuncture treatments. It can be thought of as a reverse massage. Instead of pushing in on the skin, it is gently drawn upwards by creating a vacuum in a cup over the skin. The cups stay in place for 5-15 minutes and are not painful or uncomfortable. They can help treat pain, deep scar tissue in the muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots, swelling, and can help with detoxification and circulation.
Cupping marks have in the press lately. They were recently seen on the backs of swimmers at the 2012 Olympic games. Gwyneth Paltrow has proudly shown off her cupping marks in the past, as has Victoria Beckham. While we appreciate the bold display of our handiwork (and the publicity!), we’d like to take a moment to remind our patients to cover those cupping marks. In theory, the action of cupping draws out toxins and removes stagnation from the superficial layers of the body. By encouraging this action, those layers become more “permeable” and therefore vulnerable. It is best to keep your cupping marks covered while outdoors, so wear your cardigan or scarf and use your voice to sing your praise for acupuncture and cupping!