Cupping has become a household name this week, thanks to Olympic athletes like gold medalist Michael Phelps and gymnast Alexander Naddour.
Although it seems like the latest fad, Cupping has been used for centuries in China to relieve sore muscles, tension, back pain and other medical issues. Many other athletes have seen the benefits including Major League Baseball players from the New York Mets and Oakland A’s.(1)
Cupping is performed using glass cups that are suctioned onto the skin using heat. The suction provides manual “massage” therapy to the connective tissue and muscles that are close to the surface. Cupping helps break up and release the accumulation of toxins, scar tissue and stagnant blood. Drawing these substances out of the muscles and to a more superficial layer enables them to be easily and quickly absorbed by the lymph system and then excreted from the body.
In this therapy, your trained acupuncturist will place small glass ‘cups’ over specific areas on your body. They may be moved over an affected area or left in place. Cupping therapy often leaves large red or purple marks on the skin where the procedure was performed. However, they will dissipate after a few days.
While some Americans are fans of the procedure, it is important to note that not everyone is properly trained to perform cupping. In China, where Dr. Knutson studied cupping and acupuncture, cupping is used as part of a larger integrative health check, which might include acupuncture and nutrition. (2)
If you are considering cupping, you may have read articles claiming that it is dangerous. However, this is only the case if you’re visiting a practitioner who isn’t properly trained and certified or does not properly sterilize the cups.
Dr. Knutson has a doctorate degree of Naturopathic Medicine and a masters degree in Acupuncture from Bastyr University. Following graduation, she traveled to China to complete additional training and completed an internship at Reijin Medical Hospital of Shanghai.
She is also a member of American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Certified as Diplomate of The National Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians.