Cupping Therapy: A New Olympic Event?

michael-phelps-cupping Rio 2016Is there a new Olympic event called cupping? Well, yes and no. Michael Phelps, the most decorated American Olympian in history, knows the answer. He has surely benefited from Cupping Therapy which was evident by circular red spots on his shoulder and witnessed by millions of spectators who enjoyed the recent swimming events held in Rio. Phelps and his healthcare team shined a spotlight on a centuries-old medical modality not previously known to most people. 

We are pleased with the heightened awareness of cupping overall, but especially the surge of questions and an increase in cupping appointments at Amelia Massage Associates since the Olympics aired. Phelps and his teammates brought “medically beneficial” attention to cupping therapy rather than the “celebrity fad” atmosphere that we often see on reality TV shows. Along with our personal acupuncturist and great teacher of Eastern medicine modalities, Dr. Huimin Wang, we thank Phelps and the U.S. swim team medical professionals for bringing cupping to the forefront. 

ancient-cupping-2Where did the ancient practice of Cupping begin?

Medical historians and scholars think that the Chinese are responsible for the first cupping procedures. According to a recent article by Morgan Massage, the earliest recorded use is attributed to the famous alchemist (medieval chemical science) and herbalist, Ge Hong (281-341 A.D.). “Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured,” was an expression during medieval times. ancient-cupping-1

But what is cupping therapy, exactly? And who performs it? According to the ICTA (International Cupping Therapy Association), negative pressure (suction) is used to rapidly facilitate rigid soft tissue release, loosen and lift connective tissue, and drain stagnation while increasing blood and lymph to the skin and muscles in a manner not possible through the use of compression techniques. In its original form cupping involved the use of hollowed out animal horns that were used to suck out and drain the toxins from snakebites and skin lesions. The horn slowly evolved into bamboo cups which were eventually replaced with glass. Today cups are available in glass (stationary or moving cups), plastic, and a newer, more flexible version is made of silicone. The various types have advantages and disadvantages for the practitioner, and glass is recommended for certain ailments over plastic, but they all work equally well and are beneficial for the patient. Chiropractors, holistic physicians, acupuncturists, physical therapists and massage therapists are among the medical practitioners that provide cupping therapy. We recommend certified cupping therapy training or instruction from a practicing physician. 

What are the red circles that appear as bruises? They are not bruises at all; they are evidence of the build-up of toxin, other waste products, and ultimately, the chronic stagnation present within the troubled underlying tissues. The redness shows that the cupping has worked. And unless the cups were to be positioned with extreme force, there are no negative side effects. However, there are CONTRAINDICATIONS: severe diseases such as cardiac or renal failure; ascites due to hepato-cirrhosis; severe edema; hemorrhagic disease such as allergic purpura; hemophilia; leukemia; or clients with dermatosis; destruction of skin; allergic dermatitis, fever; dehydration, and sometimes, muscle soreness, to name a few. For those taking blood thinners and for diabetics, lighter suction is used. 

Simply put, cupping creates an path for the stretching and opening of the tissues in the body. A lifting affect occurs and space is made for fluid to drain toxins and waste from the cells, and that waste is then expelled from the body. 

There are many benefits of cupping but we’ll name just a few so that you will have a basic idea. 

Musculoskeletal pain, tightness, numbness

Arthritis                                                                    High Blood pressure

Sciatica                                                                     Post-surgery adhesions

Rheumatism                                                            Post-injury trauma

Headaches                                                                Vertigo

Bronchial Asthma & Congestion                          Cellulite

Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome      Stretch marks

Michael Phelps and his healthcare team shined a spotlight on a new Olympic event-Cupping Therapy-a centuries-old medical modality not previously known to most people. Now that you know, give us a call.

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Amelia Massage Associates MM11381


Effective Cupping Therapy

Cupping Therapy at Amelia Island MassagesCupping therapy is a safe, non-invasive, comfortable and effective treatment for many health conditions. It is the method of using glass or plastic cups to create localized pressure by a vacuum. Public demand for cupping has quadrupled in the last two years, according to the International Cupping Therapy Association (ICTA). Healers have performed this technique since ancient times by using heat inside glass or bamboo cups. Today cupping sets use suction to create the vacuum. The vacuum inside the cups causes the blood to form in a specific area (the stagnant blood flow surfaces) and helps the healing process within that area of the body.

We first became aware of cupping in 2001 through our favorite acupuncturist, a Chinese physician, who was born, raised and educated in China. We are very lucky that he was able to come to America-and remain in America-because after receiving several treatments, we had a new-found appreciation for his medical teachings, techniques and principles. As a wise and seasoned healer, he quickly earned our respect for his vast knowledge and eastern medical practices in general. Clearly, we learned that we have  much more to learn about ancient cultures and natural health care. We and our clients/patients continue to benefit from his expertise and his passion for the work and we are grateful for his teachings. We will honor him again soon, in an article, by sharing another ancient treatment. (He will not let us print his name. He is too humble!)
Bamboo Cupping at Amelia Island Massages
In 1994-1999 our respective schools of therapeutic massage had taught us that meridians were the focus of many ancient healers. Meridians are the pathways in the body through which the energy of life called Qi (“chi”) flows. Qi flows through every body part, tissue and organ. Done mainly on the back where there are five meridians, we strive to open the internal energy flow through the entire body. We perform cupping with a moving cup or one or more stationary cups, depending on the severity or longevity of the patient’s discomfort (acute vs chronic pain) and the location of the affected area.

The major healing aspect of cupping therapy, at least from my perspective, is the release of toxins in the body. The suction action of the cups penetrates deep into the tissues causing the release of harmful substances. The lymphatic system is triggered to clear stagnant blood flow from the vessels and also stretches and activates the skin, our largest body organ, by the way.

For more information about cupping therapy, contact us or visit or cupping

Nancy Shores, LMT

~Massage your 93 year old mother-in-law’s feet and she’ll love you forever. – Nancy Shores

Cupping or Suction Cup Treatment

Suction Therapy Massage at Amelia Massage Associates The Complementary and Alternative Health Community has promoted a renewed interest and respect for one of the most ancient of therapeutic practices: Cupping or Suction Cup Treatment Therapy.
Suction cup therapy has been around for more than 5000 years – invented, before acupuncture. This traditional therapy is a time-honored treatment that remains favored by millions of people worldwide because it’s safe, comfortable and remarkably effective for most health disorders.

Ancient Roots of Cupping

Even though the origin of cupping therapy remains obscure, cupping therapy was used in Egypt dating back some 3,500 years, where its use is mentioned in hieroglyphics. Cupping was also used extensively by Romans, Celts, Turks, Slavic’s, Mayans, Aztecs, Native Indians and by healers throughout the Far & Middle East. Bamboo, earthenware and metal were also used as cupping vessels before the invention of glass.
Cupping Therapy at Amelia Massage Associates

Two main types of cupping therapy.

1. Massage cupping – During treatment, the glass cups are moved in a massage pattern around the skin to help massage sore joints and muscles.
2. Stationary cupping – During treatment, glass cups are applied to the skin and not moved until the end of the session.

How is a cupping session performed?

A cupping session is generally performed using the following tools: glass cups, cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, candles and matches. Each of these tools is applied during a session as follows:

– A cotton ball is soaked in alcohol and lit on fire by a burning candle
– A vacuum is created inside a glass cup by holding the lit cotton ball inside the cup.
– Once the vacuum is created the cotton ball is removed and the cup is immediately applied to the designated acupuncture point on the skin.
– Four-six cups are applied during a session and are not left on the skin for longer than fifteen minutes.

Cupping Therapy is often used to relieve the following health conditions:
Colds & Influenza, Headaches, Abscesses, Arthritis, Intercostal Neuralgia, Intestinal disorders, Hemorrhoids, Sciatica, Rheumatism, Liver disorders, Gallbladder disorders, Dermatological disorders, Depression, Anxiety & insomnia, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Musculo-skeletal problems: pain, spasms, cramps, tightness, numbness, stiffness of the back and neck Chronic gastric pain, Vertigo, High blood pressure, stroke and arteriosclerosis, Bronchial asthma & congestion, Gynecological disorders, Menopausal discomforts, Kidney disorders (including frequent/urgent urination), Post-injury trauma, Post-surgery adhesions, Cellulite.

This is a Partial list of conditions that respond well to Cupping Therapy. Amelia Massage Associates have long featured this ancient therapeutic practice in their sessions.

Although a cupping session may sound painful, it is nothing of the sort. In fact, usually the only thing a person feels is a slight suction where each cup is strategically placed. After a session, you may have circular red marks on your skin from the cups. These red marks will fade and are a sign that the cupping or suction treatment therapy has successfully increased the blood flow within your body.