Have You Seen All Those People With Welts On Their Backs?
I don’t get what all the hype is about cupping. I mean it’s only been around for a couple thousand years. To me it seems to be one of those things that has gained in popularity over the last couple years. The fact that it’s Instagram worthy definitely adds to this! But what exactly is cupping massage, and is it really worth going gaga about? In today’s post i’ll break it all down. We’ll talk about what cupping is, its major benefits, adverse effects, a few things to consider before buying , and last but not least….two recommendations of my favorite massage cupping sets!
What Is Cupping Massage/Therapy?
In layman terms, cupping is simply the act of placing suction cups on the skin. The main goal here is to create a vacuum or to “suck” the skin, if you will. But why would anyone want to do that? People believe there are benefits to cupping (more about this later), and this is why it’s still practiced today. However, there is something very important you should be aware of. The scientific evidence around the benefits of cupping is still unclear. Based on my research, I could not find any scientific papers that strongly suggest cupping is beneficial. The general consensus is that more research is required in order to provide a definitive answer.
Now then, when someone tells you all the great things cupping can do or how it’ll help you, just know that there’s hardly any science to back it up. Now i’m not saying it’s a “snake oil” type of deal! All i’m saying is it’s in your best interest to educate yourself fully before just going and trying something based on a video you watched or an article you read. If you’re interested in reading more about the history and different types of cupping, be sure to check out the following 2 articles:
- Cupping Therapy—From Wikipedia
- Cupping 101 (What It Is, How It Works & Is It Right For You?)—From Everydayroots
What About The “Perceived” Benefits?
I say perceived benefits simply because we can’t rely on solid scientific data as previously discussed above. Maybe in the future, someone will conduct a more conclusive analysis on cupping and how it actually affects health. For now, it’s a he said she said type of subject. Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the perceived benefits of cupping i.e. the benefits individuals and practitioners have observed and noted. Below are the 3 most important ones.
#1 Alleviation Of Pain
Many individuals have noticed a significant reduction in pain after having completed a cupping session. The idea/philosophy around this has to do with circulation and stagnation of bodily fluids. If you have stagnation or no flow, then you have pain as a result. On the contrary, if you have movement or free flow with no obstruction then pain cannot exist. According to this theory, if you want to eliminate pain, you need to ensure there is free unobstructed flow of bodily fluids (blood, lymph etc.) and energy.
Cupping is thought to promote this sort of free circulation. What’s my opinion on he matter? Don’t know, because I’ve never used cupping as a means to reduce pain. I’ve used it more as means of relaxation. What about you? Has cupping helped relieve your pain? Leave me a comment and share your experience!
#2 Makes You Feel More Relaxed
Here’s another perceived benefit of cupping. Looking at the welts on people’s backs, you’d think cupping would be crazy painful, but that’s actually not the case. Some say the action of placing a suction cup on one’s skin feels nothing more than a slight pinch. Speaking from my own experience, I would agree that cupping can be quite a relaxing experience, although I’m not sure why that is. Is it because you’re lying down on a comfortable bed in a dimly lit room with pleasant scents and sounds? Or is it the actual cupping process that promotes relaxation? I couldn’t tell ya!
#3 Improves Your Skin Health
I can’t attest to this one personally, but many cupping users claim that cupping has helped with their acne and other skin related conditions. Intuitively it makes sense that cupping could potentially improve skin health. Think about it for a second….cupping is said to improve circulation, and if that’s the case then you’d have better blood flow around the skin with less toxins and blockages. The end result….fewer breakouts, reduced acne etc. However, let’s not forget that it is still very much a perceived benefit!
Any Adverse Effects I Should Be Worried About?
No not really. As far as side effects are concerned, there isn’t too much to speak about. Let’s look at the important ones below!
#1 Welts Or Bruises
This is the stuff that’s Instagram worthy! The bruises on your back make for an intriguing social media post. They’re also an important side effect of cupping. Why do you get welts? It really boils down to the act of “sucking or pulling” skin. As you do this, you force blood to circulate instead of remaining in stagnation. The result is a reddish purple circular welt on your back. Here’s an interesting article on cupping marks and how it’s misinterpreted as being something negative when in reality it’s not. Definitely worth a read!
#2 Risk Of Infection
Risk of infection is more so a problem for wet cupping. Wet cupping is a type of cupping in which the patient’s skin is punctured to draw and release small amounts of blood into suction cups. The idea behind this is detoxification. As you can imagine, every time blood is involved, infection is always a concern. Are the needles properly sterilized? What about the person performing the cupping….is he or she wearing the right protective gear (gloves etc.)? If not, patients risk infection through blood….I don’t need to tell you how serious this can be! Moral of the story: if you’re interested in doing wet cupping, be completely sure that the therapist you visit is licensed, clean, and sterilizes their equipment. Below is a video from ICAHT Centre Of Integrative Medicine demonstrating the process of wet cupping (AKA Hijama).
If You Decide To Proceed With Cupping Therapy, Please Read This!!!
Don’t be the person that just starts something without first seeking guidance beforehand. If you’ve decided to give cupping therapy a shot and you think it could help you in some way or the other, then you should consult with your physician as an initial step. It may seem like overkill, but trust me it’s not. It’s in your best interest to at least notify your physician and ask if you have anything to be concerned about based on your medical history. Ultimately, it’s your call whether you take this advice or not, but I strongly urge you to not take it lightly. As cliché as it sounds, it really is better to be safe than sorry!
Cupping Therapy Can Be Expensive, So You May Wish To Consider An Alternative!
If you live in North America like I do, then you know how expensive therapeutic treatment can be. Cupping is no different. For a one hour session, I’d be looking at about $90 excluding tax. Yikes! Even if you did it on a monthly basis, it’s still expensive. That being said, there is a cheaper alternative, and that is to invest in a set of vacuum massage cups. Massage cupping sets are readily available on amazon at reasonable prices. Before we look at what you should consider before buying one of these cupping sets, here’s a word of caution: if you plan on cupping at home, stay away from wet cupping. It’s best to keep things blood free!
7 Things To Look For When Buying A Cupping Set!
There are no shortages of cupping sets to choose from, so you’ll have to spend a little time doing some research to pick what’s best for you specifically. Hopefully this list of 7 things puts you in the right direction!
The list of considerations above are a good starting point. Also, I stumbled upon an interesting article when researching cupping points. Cupping points are particularly useful if you suffer from a specific disease. As such, cupping points are used to treat certain ailments. For example, if you suffer from knee pain you’d target points 1, 55, 11, 12, and 13 as per cuppingresource. Here’s a link to the full article that goes over cupping points in greater detail. I highly recommend you give it a read!
Some Cool Recommendations You Should Check Out!
After having spent a lot of time researching, I have come up with 2 solid recommendations (NB: these are affiliate links, so if you choose to buy I will receive a small commission in return). Without further ado!
#1 Hansol Cupping Therapy Equipment Set With Pumping Handle
A complete kit that has everything you need to get started with cupping right at the convenience of your home. You have the option of going with either 10, 17, or 19 cups. Decide how many cups you’ll be fine with, and pick from one of the 3!
Some Of The Things I Like About This Set
You Get A Tighter Pull!
Silicone suction cups are great, but they don’t give you the same pull/draw as a pump gun. Not only that, but having a pump gun gives you more control/flexibility than a stick on vacuum cup. For those wondering, the pump guns are generally very easy to use. The hose connects to a rubber teat on the cup, and the trigger when pressed draws air to create a negative pressure.
Nifty Little Carrying Case
I like the idea of a carrying case. It keeps things clean, organized, and most importantly secure and safe. Having a case is not only great for storage, but really useful if you plan on cupping while away on travels. You can see what the carrying case looks like in the first picture above.
Cups Are Easy To Clean!
Because the cups are made from a hard plastic, they’re very easy to clean. A quick rinse under lukewarm water should do the trick. If you go with the 17 piece set, you get a total of thirteen (13) 2”diameter cups, and one (1) each of 1.8”, 1.6”, 1.3”, and 1.1” diameter cups. There’s also a set of instructions to get you started.
Some Of The Things I Don’t Like About This Set
But The Cups Can Break, Unfortunately
Unlike silicone cups, the plastic cups that come with this set can break if they are dropped or mishandled. The way I see it, it’s a trade off. How so? Plastic cups are easy to clean, but can also crack or break. Silicone cups on the other hand are more messier, but can’t break or crack because the material is pliable. Which one is better? I can’t pick from either of the two, as both have their pros and cons. Pick what you think will work best for you!
If you’re looking for an affordable massage cupping set that comes with a suction pump, look no further. The seals hold well, the cups are great, and the system is effective. That says a lot about a product that hardly puts a dent on your wallet! It’s also an awesome starter kit for those who are just getting into cupping. That being said, if you do end up buying this I recommend you spend some time reading more about cupping points (I linked to an article previously).
#2 Cupping Warehouse’s Supreme 8 Silicone Cupping Therapy Set
Here’s a completely different set of cups from the ones we discussed above. This set of 8 silicone cups do not require a pump to create suction/pull. When you squeeze the cup to your skin, you create a vacuum!
Some Of The Things I Like About This Set
Bigger Cup Sizes!
What’s neat about this set compared to others is the fact that it comes with two (2) extra large 2.75” diameter cups. Larger cup sizes work especially well for targeting the neck, back, and shoulder regions. In addition to the two extra large cups, you also get two (2) large, medium, and small cups that are 2”, 1.5”, and 1.25” in diameter respectively.
Easy To Apply
I find silicone vacuum cups are easier to apply compared to the pump gun plastic cup combination. With the latter, you must properly affix the hose to a cup and ensure there are no leaks before starting to draw air. While silicone cups are generally quicker and easier to apply to the skin, they don’t quite offer the same suction pull as you’d get with a pump gun.
More Comfortable Than Plastic
Because of how soft and pliable silicone is, it’s more comfortable on the skin compared to hard plastics or glass even!
Some Of The Things I Don’t Like About This Set
You Can’t Get A Tighter Pull
I mentioned this previously but I’ll say it again. My biggest issue with silicone vacuum cups is that it’s very difficult to get the same pull as you would from a pump gun, and this is an important point because it does reduce how effective a cupping session can be.
A Bit Of A Pain To Clean
A frustration more than anything really. I’ve always found silicone cups a little difficult to clean. Not to mention, they get dirty real quick as well! If you know of a workaround, please do share in the comments!
If you’ve got your mind set on silicone cups, this is the set I’d recommend. What you get is a total of 8 differently sized cups that are both BPA and dye free. The cups are well built, flexible, and durable. That being said, you should be aware of the limitations that come with silicone cups. The most important in my mind is not being able to get tighter pulls. For those who want a less or moderately intense session, this limitation is probably not going to matter all that much.
If you enjoyed reading and got some value out of this, please consider sharing on the socials. There’s so much to know when it comes to cupping, one could write an entire book about the subject. The purpose of this post is to give you a basic understanding on cupping, but if you have any questions about anything at all, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to find you the answer. As always, see you in the next one!