Over the years cupping as become very popular. Especially after gaining exposure at Summer Olympics. It has become one of the treatments that people ask about the most. Now one of the most common questions that we get is actually from people who have received cupping in the past. They want to know why they have occasionally felt sore, achy, tired, or flu-like after performing treatment. Now this is a great question and one that doesn’t get asked until after the treatment. So we have come up with a blog post explaining Cupping and all that can happen – including how some simple self-care can help prevent it the sore and achy feelings!⠀
How Does Cupping Work?
The suction and negative pressure created through cupping increases blood circulation, loosens muscles and connective tissue, clears “heat”. It helps to draw out dead or stagnant blood cells, cellular debris, lymph fluid, and toxins out of the deeper tissues and up toward the surface, allowing for easier release from the body and improving overall blood circulation to the area.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, cupping “opens” the channels, the pathways in the body through which qi (dynamic life force energy) flows. A free flow of qi is necessary to support the function of the body’s tissues and organs. When that flow is obstructed, and the qi and blood are stagnant, pain and dysfunction results. Cupping helps to improve the flow of qi and blood, allowing for improved function and healing.
For the most part, our clients feel amazing after a cupping session. However, if the treatment was too strong, or, if someone is dehydrated, hasn’t eaten enough, is fatigued, or has a sensitive constitution, then their body just might not have enough resources it needs in that moment to effectively circulate the qi, blood, and lymph, clear the toxins and debris, and integrate the effects of the treatment. So the result? You can feel tired, a little achy, and kind of yucky as your body does the work it needs to do during post-treatment.
Self-Care for Cupping
Even though this article is titled “Cupping Session Aftercare” there is still some pre-care that needs to happen before the cupping treatment. Because with the right self-care before and after your cupping treatment, you can support your body so you feel as good as possible, avoid the achy flu-like feelings, and get all the awesome benefits of cupping. Here we go:
Always important to stay hydrated, even if you aren’t getting a cupping treatment. It is a healthy part of life. However this is especially important anytime you’re getting bodywork. You want to drink plenty of room-temperature water before your session and for 24-48 hours after. This will help your body flush out what has all been drawn up to the surface during cupping treatment.
Make sure that you are eating during the day before your treatment, and then have a snack after your treatment.
You should take it easy and avoid vigorous exercise immediately after the session. If you want to still engage in light movements then we suggest activities like walking, stretching, gentle yoga, or other gentle movements that align with your abilities and mobility. These are great options if you are wanting to move after your session!⠀
Avoid drafty areas. This means no sitting in front of fans, windy places, or getting chilled. This is especially after a treatment. Cupping opens up your pores and the channels which then makes the body vulnerable to attack from outside influences like wind and cold. These environmental factors can actually trigger stiffness, pain, and reduce the flow of energy and blood. So be sure to steer clear and stay warm and toasty after your sessions.
You will also need to avoid showering or swimming the rest of the day after your treatment. This is for the same reason that you need to avoid wind and cold is important. You need to also avoid “dampness” from water and especially avoid getting a chill from being wet. So that means be strategic when it comes to planning your shower before treatment. Also you should make sure you aren’t planning to be by the water after your treatment, like hitting the local pool, going to the beach, or lake.
If you do experience any soreness post-session or if your cupping marks are very dark then you will want to try massaging some arnica gel, cream, or oil or another pain-relieving cream into the area. This can help promote healing and reduce any discomfort. You can also use a heating pad or hot water bottle and place them on the cupped areas. This will also help promote circulation and relax the muscles.
It is very important to tell your practitioner if you’ve ever experienced discomfort after cupping. You should also mention if you tend to respond strongly to acupuncture, cupping, or bodywork. Treatments can easily be modified to be more gentle and still very effective. It is also important to not that the more intense is not always better. This kind of treatment doesn’t follow the “no pain, no gain” mantra. Now if you had uncomfortable symptoms after cupping once, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen again. This is especially true with a more conservative treatment and the right self-care. Which we have just learned the proper pre and post care for cupping.