Suction Cupping Myths

Myth 1 – Toxins 

The most common cupping myth is the one where we are told it ‘draws toxins’ out of the tissue. The ‘pulling toxins’ to the skin explanation just smacks too much of an oversimplified answer to be legitimate. It is easy to assume that if a treatment is effective for say back pain that the theory behind how the treatment works must also be valid, this is however frequently not the case. Many old remedies that worked came with whacky theories to explain why they worked.. in fact most did. What I have come to realise about the inner workings of the body over the years is that often if it sounds too simple to be true it probably is. 

It is far more likely that cupping draw DE-OXYGENATED BLOOD and inflammatory chemicals to the surface in areas where it has built up, due to pain or injury related physiological conditions. (The swelling in this cupping picture for example was a reaction to extremely hard sprint triathlon training. When he isn’t doing that stuff he doesn’t react to the cups like this ) . 

cupping neck pain & shoulder pain

Release of muscle congestion for shoulder pain and neck pain in a sprint triathlete.

The theory is this…. in an injured or painful muscle the metabolism is almost certainly going to be  compromised. Over time, the muscle might undergo a progressive slowing of its metabolism and be left consistently engorged with deoxygenated blood. I believe that’s what cupping draws to the surface, and why it so often feels instantaneously relieving. Lungs can get congested, hearts can get congested, sinuses can get congested, guts can totally get congested (we call it constipation though) and I believe that skeletal muscles can also get congested. 

The truth is, we are a long way from there being enough public and scientific interest in cupping for anyone to spend the kind of money it would take to study this and prove it for sure….. for the time being though we are gonna call BS on it. 

Myth 2 – Bruising 

Our second myth is the bruising myth. It’s totally understandable that people assume that cupping marks are bruising. I guarantee you would let go of this belief in less than a single morning if you came and hung out with me at my clinic however. Why? 

If you came and observed a handful of cupping sessions with us, the first thing you would notice is that age and lifestyle plays a role in who gets cupping marks. The so called ‘bruising’ generally only happens to younger more athletic patients, older less active  patients getting cupped just as intensively don’t get any ‘bruising’ whatsoever. If cups left bruises you can be sure it would the little old ladies who would cop the worst of it. 

The second thing that would persuade you against the bruising theory would be the unpredictability of cupping marks. You would also notice that cupping marks show up in very very specific locations, and that other identical cups on the same patient leave no marks whatsoever: 

The third thing that would pursuade you cupping isn’t ‘bruising’ would be the fact that it brings relief as opposed pain across the board. Bruising increases pain and tissue sensitivity, it does not decrease it. 

Myth 3 – Chinese 

Cupping is Chinese the same way your christmas Pavlova is Australian… NOT. There are many cultures that have cupped down the Millenia. There are also many other healing techniques which act on similar principles that shown up in cultures all over the globe. None from Australia incidentally …..of course it is debatable whether Aussie meets all the criteria to be considered a ‘culture’ :)))))))

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