Ever since Michael Phelps showed up to the 2016 Summer Olympics covered in peculiar, circular bruises, body cupping has become all the rage amongst athletes and average people alike. Though at first, cupping therapy required a trip to your physical therapist or holistic healer, the technology has evolved in recent years making it much more widely accessible and popular.
As someone who has received in-office cupping treatments almost weekly for the past three years, I was especially curious to test out and learn more about the values of cupping from home. Luckily, licensed acupuncturist and board certified Chinese herbalist, Dr. Shari Auth, from WTHN Acupuncture and Cupping in NYC had all the answers to my questions about cupping from home, and was happy to share in anticipation of her studio’s first at-home cupping system launching this July.
How does cupping work?
“Cupping therapy, used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, lifts tissue upward with gentle suction— like a massage in reverse. Cupping stimulates circulation and effectively relieves tension, aches, and muscle tightness, while supporting mobility, flexibility, detox, and breathing.” Miami licensed acupuncturist and integrative medicine specialist, Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, adds that “cupping helps move stagnated blood and energy in the body, which can be a great treatment for pain while facial cupping is also great at brightening the skin, regulating oil production in the skin, reducing lines and wrinkles, toning facial muscles and stimulating lymphatic drainage.”
How does at-home cupping differ from in-office cupping?
“We at WTHN love cupping as a safe and easy at-home wellness ritual” says Dr. Auth. But the main difference is that, “at the studio, a Licensed Acupuncturist will create a custom treatment plan based on your personalized health goals.” she explains. “Cupping sessions at WTHN can be a standalone session, however, they are typically paired with acupuncture which enables the practitioner to also target needs like women’s health, immunity, anxiety, etc. The licensed practitioner also uses hard plastic cups with a suction gun as opposed to the manual silicon cups included in the WTHN at-home Body Cupping Kit. In addition, at the studio your personalized treatment plan may also include herbal medicine and other modalities.”
Is at-home cupping safe?
“Yes— safe, and easy” says Dr. Auth. “Our instruction booklet makes it clear where to place the cups and how to get the best results. The WTHN cups have an easy button to press for suction and can be easily released. Cupping can be done while you’re laying down, but also while you’re sitting at a desk working.” (As someone who works from home and has enjoyed the benefits of WTHN cupping from bed, I can attest.)
What should users keep in mind when first trying cupping at home?
“Cupping may or may not leave circular marks, but it’s nothing to be alarmed by,” Dr. Auth assures. “This is caused by increased blood flow and circulation to an area of low circulation. Cupping marks can vary from purple to pink and typically for five to seven days. Even if marks don’t appear, cupping is still working.”
What are some common misconceptions about cupping?
Dr. Auth explains that “though some people think that cupping can only be performed by a licensed professional, it is safe and easy to be done at home and the WTHN body cupping kit was created to make a time-tested holistic modality accessible.” Dr. Trattner does, however, encourage at-home users to practice caution when cupping as unsafe applications can come with health risks such as dislodging blood clots as a result of manipulating blood flow, and also advises that “patients on blood thinners, bleeding issues, steer clear of cupping.”
After years of in-office cupping administered by a physical therapist, I was skeptical about using cups on my own at home. But, after trying WTHN’s Body Cupping Kit and speaking with Dr. Auth and Dr. Trattner about the science behind cupping at home, I can confidently say that these silicon cups work wonders for relieving aches and pains from the comfort of your own space.
The WTHN Body Cupping Kit is available now for $68 at wthn.com and includes eight silicone cups, a travel case and a detailed instruction booklet for different use cases.
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