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A Bit About Cupping

What’s This ‘Cupping’ Thing

Cupping is a modality of traditional Chinese medicine in which glass cups are suctioned to the skin using heat to create a vacuum. This therapy helps to eliminate toxins, relieve congestion, improve circulation and relieve muscle tension. Cupping is generally painless and can be as effective as massage for muscle problems.

Cupping is a process in which suction is used to relieve local congestion.  Suction is created by various methods, using either heat or mechanical means to create partial vacuum.  Cupping methods create a negative pressure or suction, on the skin which pulls up tissue and actively draws blood and other fluids close to the surface.  This pulling action in the body engages the parasympathetic nervous system and induces a deep relaxation.

 

Who would benefit?

  1. Back Pain
  2. Musculoskeletal pain, Tightened or painful muscles, Pinched Nerves
  3. Headaches
  4. Respiratory Disorders
  5. Colds and Flu
  6. Asthma
  7. Arthritic conditions
  8. Edema
  9. Adhesions
  10. Intestinal Issues

Cupping is known for its ability to break up localized stagnation. Cupping is reputed to:

  1. Drain excess fluids and toxins
  2. Loosen adhesions
  3. Lift connective tissues
  4. Enhance circulation in stagnant musculature and fascia
  5. Stimulate the peripheral nervous system.  

Lung Issues :Cupping over the lungs helps to loosen phlegm, boost immunity and deepen breathing. It’s effective for common colds, asthma and allergies.

Detoxification:  When we talk about detoxifying, what we are really trying to do is to clear excess heat that burdens the liver. This accumulates from stress, eating processed foods, drinking alcohol and coffee, and taking pharmaceuticals. Cupping clears excess heat from the body, as evidenced by the red marks that can linger on the skin for several days after.

Musculoskeletal Pain: Cupping is like a reverse massage, using suction rather than pressure to relax the muscles. The heat and suction also work to bring fresh blood to a pain area and release blockages there. It is useful for back, neck and shoulder pain, and sciatica.

Digestive Problems: Cupping can help improve the digestive system when the cups are applied to the stomach area. By relaxing the stomach muscles and improving blood flow, it can increase nutrient absorption.  

Know-Before-You-Go: Cupping Edition

Brave enough to get cupped? Here are a few things you should know:

  1. It’s not as painful as it looks. If you’re a glutton for deep-tissue massage, foam rolling or a firm elbow from time to time, you can rest assured you’ll have a pain-free experience. That said, “If you have any really stagnant tissue, you might experience more soreness — but not usually lasting more than 24 hours.
  2. Those marks don’t lie (for the most part). Darker marks can denote one of two things: Poorer circulation to that part of the body or higher levels of toxicity being brought up to the skin.

 

Cupping

Cupping Is Hot

Everyone is excited about cupping, and with good reason, because it is an excellent modality to ease sore and achy muscles. Fire cupping is the process of using fire to create a vacuum within a glass cup which is placed on the body to provide therapeutic benefit. Cupping is usually done on the back, but can be applied to other locations of the body.

cupping_annistan      cupping-athletes      olypian_cupped      phelps_cupped

Check out some of these images from the Olympics. Cupping is hot partly because of the publicity they are giving it. The large marks it leaves as part of the healing process are bold statements worn by athletes and celebrities.

What Is It?

There are two main types of cupping, stationary and sliding, each type has a different emphasis. Stationary cupping means that the cup is placed on the body and left there for about 5-10 minutes, without moving it. Stationary cupping is primarily used as a method to stimulate acupuncture points on the back, it may also be using in conjunction with acupuncture (the cup is placed over a needle which has already been inserted into an acupuncture point). Sliding cupping is the process of placing a cup on the location of treatment and moving it around along the acupuncture channels of the back with brief periods of leaving it in place to provide extra stimulation on various acupuncture points.

Why Do It?

Cupping is valuable because it is a method that helps to loosen the facial layer, which is the first step in preparing the body to do deeper muscle work. Cupping increases circulation in the area being worked on. This increase of circulation helps the body to eliminate toxins from the muscle layer, as well as oxygenating the cells, and increasing the rate of tissue repair. The pinyin (English pronunciation of Mandarin) calls these toxins “sha”. “Sha” literally can be translated as muscle gravel. This muscle gravel creates pain, stiffness, fatigue, and limited range of motion. By bringing these toxins to the surface and inducing the body to fully process and remove them, pain decreases, muscles loosen up, range of motion is increased, and energy is increased.

How Cupping Fits Into An Acupuncture Treatment

Usually some general massage or Tui Na (massage focused on acupuncture channels and points) is done before cupping. Tui Na warms the muscles up, so that they are prepared for the deeper work of cupping. Tui Na also provides an opportunity to work some massage oil into the skin, making it easier for the cups to glide across the surface of the body. As it is utilized in Chinese Medicine, cupping is often considered an accessory technique. Acupuncture, dietary therapy, and herbal therapy are the primary tools of regulating the health of the body, everything else is added to strengthen and support these primary modalities. Cupping is an ancient and powerful tool for healing. It is also easily accessible.

 

Jocelyn, our Acupuncturist, is trained in fire cupping. She has office hours in Colby and Marshfield. If you have questions or would like to experience cupping for yourself, it is just a phone call away!