What to Expect During a Cupping Therapy Session

Most people are familiar with using acupuncture and massage to help stimulate your body’s natural healing responses. But cupping isn’t nearly as well-known, leaving many people in the dark when it comes to the therapy’s potential benefits. 

At Central New Jersey Acupuncture & Wellness in Hazlet, New Jersey, Yuliya Chernyak, DAOM, offers cupping therapy as part of a holistic approach to health and wellness, tailoring each treatment to every patient’s unique needs. If cupping is new to you, here’s what you can expect during and after your session.

How cupping works

Cupping has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a way of improving the body’s flow of natural energy (called chi or qi). The suction created during cupping draws the skin up, stimulating the flow of oxygen-rich blood to sore or tense muscles. The oldest recorded use dates to an Egyptian medical textbook from 1550 BCE.

During a cupping session, small, hollowed-out cups are used to create suction in specific areas of your body, including areas along your spine. Like acupuncture, the underlying “science” of cupping isn’t completely understood, but researchers believe the suction promotes better circulation to promote natural healing responses.

Increased oxygen flow is important for repairing damaged tissues and decreasing painful inflammation. Some research indicates cupping may promote the growth of new, healthy tissue in areas of injury.

Even though cupping has been used for thousands of years, it didn’t gain a lot of attention until the 2016 Olympics, when swimmer Michael Phelps and other athletes revealed they used the therapy to help them heal and prepare for competition.

What to expect during a cupping session

Unlike acupuncture, cupping doesn’t puncture your skin. Instead, the small cups used in therapy are placed on top of your skin, all along the site of soreness, tension, or injury. Dr. Chernyak determines the proper placement of the cups by evaluating your symptoms and the treatment area.

Once the cups are in place, Dr. Chernyak uses gentle suction to remove air from inside the cups. The vacuum that’s created draws your skin and underlying tissues upward, into the hollowed-out part of the cup.

By gently lifting your tissues, blood flow into the area increases, delivering oxygen and other important nutrients to aid in healing. At the same time, enhanced circulation removes toxins and impurities for better overall tissue health.

You might feel some tugging on your skin for a few moments after each cup is placed, but the sensations resolve soon afterward as your skin adjusts to the new feeling. Depending on your needs, the cups are left in place for anywhere from a few minutes to up to about 20 minutes per location. 

After your session

To remove the cups, Dr. Chernyak releases the suction, allowing the cups to be easily removed. After each cup is removed, you’ll probably notice a reddish “circle” or imprint left on your skin. This effect is temporary and indicates increased circulation in the area. The circle marks will resolve within a few days.

Keeping the area warm immediately after treatment can enhance the effects of increased circulation. Dr. Chernyak may apply an ointment or a covering to the area to maintain the healing effects and soothe your skin.

As with acupuncture and massage, you’ll want to plan to take it easy after cupping to give your body plenty of time to make the most of the natural healing effects. You’ll also want to drink plenty of water to support increased blood flow in the area.

Learn how cupping can help you

Cupping is used extensively for muscle soreness and inflammation. But it may also be useful for conditions like respiratory issues, acne, and other skin, muscle, and nerve problems. Dr. Chernyak may recommend cupping on its own or in combination with acupuncture or other therapies to maximize the healing effects.

To learn more about cupping and how it can enhance your health and healing naturally, call the practice and schedule a visit today.

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