Thanks to gold medalist Michael Phelps and the other olympians for bringing cupping therapy to the center stage. This ancient therapy brings modern relief for pain, recovery from injury, and healing.
WHAT IS CUPPING?
Cupping therapy uses glass, plastic, bamboo, or suction cups to create localized pressure by a vacuum. Chinese medicine practitioners have been using this healing modality for thousands of years. Cupping therapy has been found in ancient records dating back 3500 years and it is still used today by many Acupuncturists & Chinese Medicine practitioners/doctors. In ancient times heat from fire inside the glass or bamboo cups created a vacuum.
Today some practitioners still use fire, but other Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine practitioners use plastic or glass “suction” cupping sets, which use suction to create vacuum. The vacuum inside the cups causes the blood to collect in the muscle and connective tissue and helps to relax and heal the area.
In Acupuncture & Chinese medicine we utilize several techniques with "cupping", depending upon the patients needs. Acupuncturists have knowledge, clinical experience, & expertise to differentiate the appropriate diagnostic and treatment method for each individual patient.
Acupuncture & Chinese medicine practitioners/doctors use cupping for several different purposes. Here are a few:
- Improve circulation. The body contains Meridians. These meridians are energetic pathways in the body which the energy of life called Qi ("chi") flows through. It flows through every body part, tissue. and organs. Like acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians. There are many meridian pathways within the body which these suction cups can be placed. Using these pathways, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific areas of pain. By targeting the meridian pathways, cupping strives to 'open' these channels - the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs, thus providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi. Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, nerves can be nourished, and veins and arteries can be refreshed.
This treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control a person's asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. Cupping is also used for facial rejuvenation to improve lyphatic flow and refresh the skin.
- Release Toxins. Part of the healing effect of cupping therapy is through the release of toxins in your body. The suction from the cups can penetrate deep into your tissues causing the tissues to release harmful toxins. The cupping draws fresh blood and lymph into the tissue to accelerate the healing response. It triggers the lymphatic system, clears the blood vessels, and stretches and activates the skin.
- Treats Pain. When there is injury, either chronic or traumatic, the fascia is also affected, not just the muscles, ligaments and tendons.
If the network of fascial planes is disrupted due to scar tissue adhesions (sometimes referred to as knots), restrictions in function and mobility will result. Cupping is great to improve healing time post-trauma and can break up adhesions.
Cupping can leave marks for several days after a treatment. This usually correlates with how much underlying stagnation is in the tissue and can be an indicator for poor blood circulation if the marks take a long time to clear. While they may look painful, they are not. Most people really enjoy cupping and love the feeling of a "reverse" massage. Instead of pushing into the tissue, cupping therapy pulls the tissue and dramatically improves blood flow to the muscles, tendons, and connective tissue.
* NOTE: There are several cautions and contraindications with cupping and a thorough and correct diagnosis of an individual patient should be performed before cupping therapy. Only highly trained and knowledgeable practitioners such as Acupuncturist & Chinese Medicine Practitioners/Doctors should be performing such treatments to avoid harm.