What is Fire Cupping Therapy?

the ancient art you may not know is offered

By Arynn - September 1, 2016

So — the Rio 2016 Olympics have been over for a few weeks and the pride lingers as we all know that the US Olympic swimming team slayed! But… did anyone else check out those circular marks all over our swimming hero Michael Phelps? 

As it turns out, this 28-medal winning Olympian turned to an ancient treatment that left those marks. These marks are the residual effect of an eastern Chinese medicine known as “fire cupping” or “cupping therapy.”  Here in Denver, several of our certified LoDo Massage therapists offer this treatment incorporated into your massage treatment or separately. Each cup creates a suction circle that is roughly 2-inches in diameter, thus leaving those temporary marks that were easily seen on Phelps while he was competing. Since Olympic athletes have caught on to this modality to help with their rigorous training, the rest of us should rightfully be curious.

The science behind this alternative healing art indicates that increasing circulation to the lymph and blood vessels with suction assists in flushing toxins, much like a massage does.  While a massage is a “pushing” release, cupping is a “pulling” release. More specifically, the heated cups used in this ancient therapy are generally placed on large areas of skin, such as the back and arms, and they function like a vacuum. The warmed and suctioned areas of skin experience an increased blood flow to those areas, removing toxins from the surrounding muscle and reducing inflammation too.

Fire cupping doesn’t just work on those two systems however. Shape magazine says cupping is an “alternative cure for workout woes.”  You know *DOMS (aka delayed onset muscle soreness), well they are generally due to a build up of lactic acid and both fire cupping and massage can help relieve this build up as well. 

After cupping therapy, a recipient may feel some residual soreness as they would with a deep-tissue massage that manipulates muscle.  The circular bruises will also be temporarily present. 

Some of LoDo massage therapists swear by this healing technique and certainly recommend it to athletes and those seeking specific types of pain management. The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine and the British Cupping Society published reports that indicated cupping assisted with a wide array of other problems; such as, acne, eczema, migraines, anxiety, fibromyalgia, arthritis and even partial paralysis.

* Since fire cupping is on our "secret upgrades menu, for more information, please call our main LoDo massage studio in Denver’s RiNo district at 720.360.0035. Also, feel free to read more about reducing the effect of DOMS in our “massage aftercare” recommendations.

LoDo Massage Studio Staff


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