Cupping is one of the oldest recorded therapies. It is mentioned in the hieroglyphics of the temples of ancient Egypt, and was almost certainly practised 3000 years ago in China. Until recently it was in daily use by the populations of Central and Southern Europe, but fell into relative disuse with the advent of anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drugs. Its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine has repopularised Cupping, and it is now considered to be a useful and effective complementary therapy.
Margaret Papoutsis has been practising Cupping for the whole of her professional life, having been taught the technique whilst a student at the British School of Osteopathy.
What can Cupping be used for?
At the level of muscle and joint problems, Cupping is ideal for:
- Encouraging improved circulation to tense, tender or fibrous areas of muscle. This is particularly effective in the neck and shoulders, bringing immediate relief from tension and soreness. It is very popular with musicians, singers and anyone who spends many hours hunched over a computer.
- Speeding the removal of swelling and bruising from a damaged area - strained ankles or over-used muscles, for instance. Sports people find Cupping particularly beneficial after a long training session or unusually hard match.
There are a number of other traditional uses for Cupping which have been well publicised, though as yet poorly researched. These include:
- An adjunct to detoxification programmes
- Improving the drainage in chest and sinuses
What does the treatment involve?
- The cups themselves are small rounded vessels made from heat-resistant glass, having a narrower neck and smooth edges.
- The cups are placed momentarily over a methylated spirit flame which heats the air inside the cup, without warming the cup itself.
- Before the air can cool, the cup is quickly placed on the skin over the area to be treated.
- As the air cools there is a vacuum effect created which encourages improved circulation to the area.
- The cups are removed after a minute or maybe less.
Are there any side-effects?
- The process may be slightly uncomfortable for the duration of the cupping, but should not be actually painful. However, any discomfort disappears immediately, leaving only a sense of warmth and relaxation in the muscle.
- The suction exerted by the cups may result in local circular, pain-free bruising. These last for 7-10 days. Before treatment, you will always be asked if you have any intention of wearing a swimsuit or low-backed dress!
- Cupping is not automatically included as part of a normal osteopathic treatment, but is a valuable adjunct in suitable cases.
Cupping is not advised on face or neck, over varicose veins or on damaged skin.
Cupping must always be administered directly onto the skin of the area to be treated.