Suction Cups Therapy, Cupping, Ventouse Therapy, or in Chinese Bá Guán (拔罐), are you familiar with any of these names? Some time ago I was surfing the web, researching alternative therapies when I came across pictures of people with “sucker marks” on their backs, from athletes like Michael Phelps to celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Richie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham or Justin Bieber who have all openly shown the distinctive red circular marks on their body and declared themselves fans of this therapy, I didn´t really get it, initially those marks on the skin really put me off.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when we were at SHA WELLNESS CLINIC for our annual visit, something we like to do with all our partners to keep up to date with their latest news and in this case just to remind ourselves why SHA is one of your favourite destinations – any excuse!! Here we had the chance to try out cupping for ourselves, obviously with a one-off session we were not able to see huge results, but the feeling was very positive, especially in combination with the effects of the Spa and the surprisingly tasty and healthy Macrobiotic diet that reigns in this wonderful wellness clinic. After interrogating my cupping therapist, I was still curious to find out more about the subject and decided to investigate even further, and this is what I found:
What is Suction Therapy or Cupping?
It would appear that is an ancient technique that consists of using suction cups on the body at various points causing a vacuum either by using heat, heating the cup from the inside or by mechanical suction.
Traditional Suction Cups can be made of bamboo, clay, ceramic or glass.
The most modern ones can also be made from plastic. These suction cups are applied using a suction pump or rubber pear that on squeezing several times creates a vacuum, with the traditional suction cups the therapist needs to burn a small cotton ball, previously doused in alcohol, inside the cup to create the suction required.
These cups can be fixed in place for 10 to 15 minutes, removed and replaced quickly and repeatedly, moved once applied, shaken or rotated … depending on the treatment and the therapist.
In our case the suction cups, once the vacuum had been applied, were moved around our backs. The sensation was very pleasant, similar to a massage, although I have to say some areas were definitely more sensitive and in a few places even a bit painful, although we were assured that this is completely normal with this therapy.
If the cups are applied and then fixed in position, they can often leave red circular marks on the skin but this is nothing more than bruising caused by the suction as blood and toxins are drawn up to the skin. These marks usually disappear within a week.
This method promotes the free circulation of Qi and blood which can sometimes be interrupted if there is any kind of blockage. It also eliminates excesses and promotes the cure of various ailments. The suction produced by the cup causes an increased level of blood supply in the area, stimulates blood and lymphatic circulation, as well as cellular metabolism (providing nutrients and oxygen), activates the immune system (contributes leukocytes to the tissues), and triggers a purification process (elimination of toxins).
“The suction cups generate a vacuum and stimulate the skin to decongest the area and improve the flow of energy. The suction draws out water, eliminates toxins, and stimulates cell regeneration “, explains the physiotherapist Fernando Tejero of Slow Life House. “It’s as if we were getting rid of all the rubbish stored up in the body´s system. You get the blood and lymp circulation of muscles, vessels, nerves and lymphatic system moving!
Where Does Cupping Therapy Come From?
I have not been able to identify the true origin of the technique but the Egyptians, Greeks and Arabs, as well as many European countries used methods of cupping during the Middle Ages, and dating even further back it has been documented that the traditional oriental medicines also used the benefits of this treatment. In China there is evidence that is was used more than 2,000 years ago.
In Arabic medicine “Hijhama”, as it is known, has been used for thousands of years to treat numerous diseases. They reportedly used the cups on specific days of the month in accordance with the lunar cycles to obtain even better therapeutic effects.
And if we go further back in time it seems that the shamans of ancient Mesopotamia were clear about the benefits of this therapy.
In what cases is Cupping Therapy recommended?
- Muscular problems (particularly in the event of a muscle spasm)
- Cellulite, fluid retention.
- Obesity, as it boosts the metabolism.
- Stress and anxiety.
- Respiratory disease.
- Diseases of the nervous or locomotor system.
Benefits of Suction Cupping Therapy:
- Lymphatic drainage – improves blood and lymphatic circulation, helps eliminate toxins
- Muscle relaxant.
- Analgesic effect.
- Elimination of external pathogens, especially cold and humidity.
- Stimulates the metabolism.
- Regulates the nervous system.
- Boosts the immune system.
- Improves the condition of tendons.
Who should not use suction cup therapy?
- Pregnant women.
- People with hypersensitivity or delicate skin.
- People with serious circulation problems.
So I will finish off by reiterating that alternative therapies such as cupping can be very beneficial to your health as long as they are applied by experienced professionals and with the appropriate equipment. I cannot recommend SHA Wellness Clinic in Alicante highly enough to experience this kind of treatment as part of a more extensive health program.
If you want to know more about the programs they offer and the extras you receive when booking your stay through SIS, Spa in Spain then click here: http://www.spa-in-spain.com/hotels-and-spas/hotel/sha-wellness-clinic/#packages