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.
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!