As a Registered Massage Therapist, working in a multidisciplinary practice, I’ve added several new modalities to my practice. Dynamic cupping, being one of my most effective treatments, as it utilized decompression instead of the normal compression techniques applied in massage. I’ve been met with a lot of mixed reactions and question regarding cupping, like benefits, risks and the concern over marks that are left on the body after a treatment. In this blog, I’m looking to share information to the public about cupping marks and how they differ from bruises, so that those concerns can be put to rest and people wanting, recovery-based treatments, get the help they need. Lets just clarify exactly what the differences are between bruises and cupping marks.
Bruises- by definition are an injury caused by a blow, crush or impact that ruptures in underlying blood vessels and tissue, spilling the contents of those vessels into nearby tissue causing discoloration (Red, Purple, Blue or Black). Also known as contusion, hematoma or ecchymosis. A bruise usually takes a minimum of 2 weeks to heal completely but is dependant on how deep the impact of injury occurred. Along with discoloration, there is usually pain and swelling.
Cupping Marks– Draw, non- circulating stagnation of blood and other by-products from a deeper area within the tissue (from muscle or connective tissue) to the surface of the skin, leaving room for new fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients to move in and aid in healing. Marks typically last from 3 days to a week.
The color and pattern of the marks depends on the level of stagnation in that area and range from bright red to dark purple. Sites where old trauma or injury may require multiple cupping sessions to remove all stagnation.
If there is no stagnation present, there will be a light pink color change – that may only last a couple hours after the treatment. People who sweat a lot (sweating helps detoxify the body) they may not mark at all. But those who work/live in toxic environments or were exposed to heavy doses of toxic materials like paint, metals, herbicides/pesticides or cigarette smoke may consistently mark.
As a healthcare professional, it is our duty to educate patients about the modalities we are using in our practices. This includes benefits, risks and side effects of those modalities so that our patients can make informed decisions about what they want/need from treatment. Sometimes the biggest impact on a patient not seeking a specific treatment is the misconceptions about what the treatment is actually doing to their bodies. I have found that when my clients are educated about how cupping can benefit them, they are less worried about how the marks may appear to others. Hopefully with this information, you can engage with cupping as eagerly as I do.
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