Cupping: Are Those Bruises Really Worth It?

Cupping: Are Those Bruises Really Worth It?

By now you’ve probably seen pictures or videos of people having what looks like suction cups stuck on their backs or other parts of their body.  Or maybe you’ve seen what looks like circular octopus marks on an Olympic athlete.  You might be wondering why they’re having cups stuck to them that leave dark red circles on their backs? Well, it turns out they are actually receiving a treatment called cupping, which is a myofascial decompression technique used to treat sore muscles, injuries, headaches, and more. This type of therapy uses suction cups to create negative pressure within the tissue to increase circulation, decrease local sensitivity and encourage healing in the area of concern or pain. 

As cupping becomes a more popular type of treatment, we wanted to break down seven facts about cupping that we think you should know: 

1. It’s not just for athletes 

One of the biggest misconceptions is that cupping is only for athletes. Even though this type of treatment is widely used among athletes and one of the reasons it has become so popular, anyone can benefit from cupping. Since cupping can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal injuries, areas of pain, and general muscle recovery, most people can benefit from this type of treatment. If you have been injured in an auto accident or work-related accident, you might be surprised to know that cupping can help your injuries heal quicker.  

2. It’s a natural and holistic form of pain relief  

Cupping is one of the oldest forms of alternative treatments, introduced by traditional Chinese and Egyptian practices back in 1500 BC, and has been shown to help patients with pain management. At Kaizo Health, we believe in getting to the root issue of pain and not masking the pain with medication. When patients are prescribed medication, their injury can often go untreated and the patient can later suffer from drug-dependency issues.  

3. It creates a healing response 

Similar to dry needling, the purpose of cupping is to bring blood and oxygen into the muscles to promote healing. As the cups stretch the tissue, it creates an inflammatory response which causes the white blood cells to break down scar tissue and allow oxygen and nutrients to re-enter the muscles.  

4. It’s not painful 

Despite what it may look like based on the bruises most people have following their cupping treatment, cupping is not painful. A question we get asked often is “why does cupping leave bruises?” This is a valid question. Cupping leaves bruises, or dark red circles on the areas the cups are placed because as the cups stretch the tissue, blood comes to the surface of the skin, and tiny blood vessels open under the skin. However, most patients say they do not experience any pain during the actual treatment and most bruises subside within a week or two.  We even think they make you look tough! 

5. There are different types 

You might also not know there are a few different types of cupping offered: dry, massage, and wet cupping. 

Dry cupping is when the provider places the cup on the skin and uses a suction tool to remove air from the cups. Once the cup is placed on the skin, the vacuum force pulls the skin up into the cup.  

Massage cupping is similar to dry cupping, except that the provider moves the cups around the area of concern or injury.  

At Kaizo Health, we currently offer both dry and massage cupping.* 

The third type of cupping, we do not offer here, is called wet cupping. Wet cupping is when a provider uses a needle to lightly puncture or scrape your skin before or after cupping.   

There is also another variation of dry cupping which includes heat, where the provider heats up each cup, typically using an alcohol-soaked cotton ball that is set aflame. The heart sends oxygen out of the cup, creating a vacuum force that pulls the skin up into the cup.   

6. It treats more than just back pain 

Another misconception we hear all the time regarding cupping is that it can only treat back pain. Even though most videos and pictures show people receiving this type of treatment on their backs, cupping can be used on people’s neck, shoulders, biceps, triceps, hamstrings, quads, and other injured areas or areas experiencing pain!  

7. It is a safe therapy 

As with any treatment, we also recommend seeking the care of a trained professional. Our doctors have completed the necessary training to ensure they provide safe and effective treatment. When done correctly, cupping can be a wonderful, natural way to relieve pain in the body and promote self-healing. 

If you are still curious about cupping, check out our latest video showing you how our doctors perform this type of treatment. We now offer cupping at all four of our DMV-area locations. Cupping is covered by most insurances but we are more than happy to check your benefits for you.  

Get Treated at Kaizo Health  

Our goal at Kaizo Health is to always get you back to feeling 100%. Not only will our doctors provide treatment to help you be pain-free, but we also have a dedicated team that will work with you and your insurance to make sure you get the most from your benefits so that you can experience relief for as little cost to you as possible. If you are ready to experience relief from the pain, make an appointment to see us now.  

At Kaizo Health, our world-class team of chiropractors in Rockville, MD; Landover, MD; Fort Washington, MD; and Fairfax Chiropractors, practices an evidence-based approach combining chiropractic care and guided, individualized rehabilitative exercises prescription. We provide the treatment and resources you need to recover your health and strength as best-in-class, state-of-the-art chiropractors. We are here to help! In the meantime, make sure that you check out our blog for more information on the chiropractic field, as well as our free virtual self-assessment chiropractic web app here