Fire cupping has been recently gaining popularity. I learned this ancient Chinese Medicine technique when I took an Asian Bodywork course at Elements of Healing in Essex Junction, Vermont and have been offering this add-on service for many years. If you aren’t already familiar with it or would like to understand how it may benefit you, read on!
What Is Fire Cupping?
In traditional Chinese cupping, glass cups are heated with a small flame and quickly placed on the skin. As soon as the cup comes in contact with the skin, a suction is formed. This causes blood and oxygen to rush to the area; which can elicit many healing benefits.
I like to refer to cupping as the “inverse” of deep tissue massage because the suction created by the cups pulls on the muscle fibers; whereas deep tissue massage presses on it. Cupping can help release tight and tense muscles when the deepest massage techniques are no longer making progress.
Since I’m not a traditional Chinese practitioner, I have adapted the use of cupping in ways that enhance the benefits of deep tissue massage. My style of cupping is different in both approach and method.
Instead of the traditional use of an open flame, after I wipe the inside of the glass cup with rubbing alcohol, I ignite it with a lighter and quickly place the cup on the skin. The flame is extinguished immediately which creates suction. It’s similar to the sensation you feel when putting your hand on the end of a vacuum hose. I use this technique because I don’t like working with an open flame and my method is just as effective.
Another difference in my style is that once I’ve placed the cups, I slide them over the surface of the skin. Traditional cupping is done with stationary cups; meaning they are not moved once they’ve been placed on the body. By sliding the cups along the surface of the skin, the muscle tissue is gently stretched and pulled and I am able to get better results for my clients.
Many people hear the word “fire” cupping and think it’s a hot treatment. Although the cup is heated with a flame before being applied, the cups are not hot. In fact, the skin can feel cool after the cups are removed.
Fire cupping is not painful, but it’s not sedating either. I will check in to determine if any of your cups need more or less suction. You are always in control of the level of intensity. The cups should never feel painful or pinch the skin. If your goal is to drift off into dreamland, then I recommend adding hot stones or reflexology to you massage instead of cupping.
- Some people bruise as a result of cupping. This is not necessarily an indication that your treatment was more or less effective; it’s just how some bodies react. Cupping bruises will fade within a week after your session.
- People usually report feeling an increased range of motion and greater flexibility for longer periods of time after receiving fire cupping.
- I have encountered a few people who do not like cupping at all. This becomes clear as soon as the first cup is placed. As with any treatment, if you are uncomfortable or don’t like a sensation, just let me know and I’ll immediately adjust to meet your needs. You are always in control over what happens during your treatment sessions with me!
If you’re curious about cupping but are feeling hesitant about trying it, I encourage you to get in touch so we can discuss whether it would be a good fit for you.