"This ancient method of soft-tissue intervention has been traced back to one of oldest medical textbooks in history, The Ebers Papyrus, written in 1550 BC, which describes Egyptians’ use of cupping techniques. That’s pretty old!
Apparently, even ‘ol Hippocrates was into using cups for “internal disease and structural problems” for the folks in Ancient Greece.
For centuries, cultures around the world have used cupping in a variety of ways, as a means of therapeutic and medical intervention.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Practitioners of cupping know that cupping therapy helps relieve pain, improve circulation, dispel stagnant blood and lymph, improve energetic flow, and even serve as a method to treat (when within scope of practice) such conditions as respiratory disease, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Ranging from bamboo cups, animal horns, bronze and pottery to glass, plastic and silicone, cupping tools have evolved over time. The theories behind the methods, however, haven’t deviated much from tradition—until recently, that is.
Deeply rooted in ancient practices often tied to religious beliefs, cupping has been mostly viewed as the “red-headed stepchild with no scientific validity” in the eyes of modern, Western medical science for, well, pretty much ever.
However, with the medical lens having recently broadened to consider fascial and neuroanatomy of the dermal and fascial subsystem, the cup might actually be looking half full versus half empty.
A Different Approach to Cupping Techniques
Enter RockTape’s RockPods; a silicone cupping toolkit and educational system that takes a different approach to an ancient method that sucks (on purpose).
Cupping involves applying heated glass or plastic cups like the RockPds to specific areas of the skin in a way that creates suction to restore the flow of blood and energy, or qi, and stimulate healing. The cups are kept still or gently moved across the skin in a gliding fashion to loosen muscles, increase circulation and draw out toxins that linger in the tissues. It's a form of deep tissue therapy, explains Kathleen Greenough, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City. "By creating a vacuum inside the cup, using heat or suction, it draws the skin and layers of muscle into the cup, which allows [the technique] to break up muscle knots and bruising that's not visible. It also opens pores and circulation in the area and clears any obstructions like lactic acid and build-up of toxins from the environment."
In other words, with the suction effect, "we're creating a controlled injury that kick-starts the healing process," explains Dr. Charles Kim, an acupuncturist and assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine and anesthesiology at the NYU School of Medicine, Rusk Rehabilitation, who sometimes uses cupping for pain management in his practice. "It's a counter-irritant that creates more healing to the area we're addressing." During a session, the technique can cause mild discomfort, similar to having a massage on a sore area, but not pain.
In fact, cupping is particularly beneficial for relief from back pain, headaches, menstrual cramps and other painful conditions, experts say. In a 2011 study from China, after people with fibromyalgia had daily cupping sessions for 15 days, their pain symptoms and the number of tender points they had decreased considerably, effects that lasted for two additional weeks. More recently, a 2013 study from India found that when people with osteoarthritis of the knee had 11 cupping treatments over a 15-day period, they gained significant relief of pain, swelling and stiffness, results that were comparable to taking 650 milligrams of acetaminophen three times a day, according to the researchers."