WHEN it comes to cupping, you can run but you can’t hide.
The alternative therapy leaves painful looking red marks on the targeted areas, and dozens of celebs have been spotted sporting them on their backs.
But what exactly is cupping, and is it painful or dangerous? Here’s what you need to know.
What is cupping?
Cupping may be trending at the moment, but the therapy can be traced back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern times.
Records show the Ancient Egyptians were practising cupping as early as 1550 BC.
During the treatment, a therapist puts special cups on their client’s skin and leaves them on for a few minutes – to create suction.
When done properly, it has many benefits – including helping to ease pain and inflammation; increase blood flow, relaxation and well-being; aid detox; and provide a deep-tissue massage.
The cups are made from glass, bamboo, earthenware or silicone – and can be either wet or dry.
Traditionally, the therapist would put a flammable substance – such as alcohol, herbs or paper – in the cup, and set it on fire.
As the flames go out, the cup is placed on the client’s skin and left there for up to three minutes – creating a vacuum as it cools.
This causes the skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand.
A more modern version sees therapists use a rubber pump instead of fire to create suction, while silicone cups can be moved around the skin for a massage-like effect.
A therapist might use between three and five cups. It is rare for them to use more than seven.
Does cupping actually work?
The British Cupping Society say that it can be used to treat:
- Blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia
- Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
- Fertility and gynecological disorders
- Skin problems such as eczema and acne
- High blood pressure
- Anxiety and depression
- Bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma
- Varicose veins
But there’s not research to back all of that up. As a massage therapy, the treatment is effective in easing tense muscles.
What are the side-effects of cupping?
Cupping leaves red, circular marks on the treated area – which normally take around 10 days to fade, and could stick around for up to a month.
The therapy can cause mild discomfort, but should not be painful.
One Chinese man, Lin Lin, was left with seven painful burns after returning to a therapist for 10 consecutive days – and having hot cups put on the same place on his back.
He was left with severe tissue damage and a bacterial infection.
A surge of athletes getting cupping treatment during the Rio 2016 Olympics prompted American Brian Dunning to create a petition urging people not to call cupping a ‘science’ – as many of its ‘healing benefits’ have not been proven.
What is facial cupping?
Kim Kardashian is always ahead of the trend and in March she Snapchatted about facial cupping, something most of us had never heard of.
Posting on the photo sharing site, Kim wrote: “Face cupping facial at Nurse Jamie” and, intrigued to know more, E! Online went straight to the LA-based skin expert.
And no, facial cupping doesn’t leave those tell-tale red marks.
Nurse Jamie said: “The cupping facial encourages blood flow to the tissue and stimulates the lymphatic system to help reduce inflammation, which in turn smooths fine lines and wrinkles.”
Different sized cups are placed on the face and the skin is drawn up into the cup, in a vacuum-like effect.
Nurse Jamie added: “It kind of feels like a cat licking you.” The treatment should leave you with plumper, fuller skin.
Which other celebrities have tried cupping?
Swimming legend Michael Phelps was leading the brigade of athletes proudly showing off their cupping marks at the Olympics.
Celebs including Victoria Beckham, Calum Best, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have all had the treatment in the past.
There were no complaints from any of the above stars, who are all thought to be fans.
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Recently, Calum Best had the procedure performed rather unusually on his head!
The footballer posted pictures to Instagram.
He said: “Look away if you’re squeamish. I am all about alternative medicines and treatments.
“I ventured into cupping last night for my first time.
“A small incision is made on areas for cupping including the back of my head – the most intense/grim/fascinating part.
“No pain – just a new tight feeling of skin all over, Honestly, no blood or mess.
“The dark congealed blood can be filled with toxins from over the years. Yes, your kidneys do this for you but they can always do with some help.”
However, the same can’t be said for Coleen Nolan – who tried cupping live on Loose Women.
Coleen looked in agony during the procedure and said: “It felt like somebody pinching your flesh, hanging on to it and then pulling it out of your back.”
Singer Jamelia Davis had a better experience, adding: “It does hurt but can I just say that it does work.
“I really had some tension in my shoulders earlier on today and they did that for about two minutes and when they took it off I felt fine.”