What is Cupping Therapy?

Early on in traditional Chinese medicine, animal horns were actually used for cupping, and then more recently segments of bamboo were utilized. Modern cupping usually involves the use of a plastic suction cup or alternately a thick glass therapy cup is applied to the skin. Both create suction therapy to the underlying soft tissues.

What Does Cupping Do?

Cupping is an ancient healing technique that increases circulation and promotes the healing of a broad range of medical ailments.

How Does Cupping Work

The cupping procedure includes applying a therapy suction cup to the area requiring treatment. This is done by pulling the air out of the cup creating a vacuum when it is applied to the skin. This generates swelling of the underlying capillary beds and thereby improves circulation to the muscles and the other surrounding soft tissues. Cupping therapy can reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body and can promote mental and physical relaxation and well- being.

Cupping Speeds Up Healing

Chinese medicine combines cupping along with the application of therapeutic warming oils that penetrate into the muscles and with aid of massage, vastly potentiate cupping therapy. According to the theory of Chinese medicine, cupping works to break up stagnant blood, promotes the circulation and enhances the vital life force (qi) to move into the treated area. The view is that it’s an inside job, the body its already there. So, by creating a beneficial environment within body, the body’s natural ability to heal is then promoted and healing is thereby more rapidly enhanced.

Cupping and Sports Enhancement

Because cupping can rapidly increase circulation to muscles and other soft tissues, including tendons, cupping is an awesome modality for sports injuries and enhancement. Olympic athlete and gold medalist

Michael Phelps recently sported cupping marks on his right shoulder after

winning a gold medal in what the New York Times called, “an ancient Chinese healing practice

that is experiencing an Olympic moment.” Yay!

Safety of Cupping Therapy

Cupping is relatively safe, especially when performed by trained health professionals. Potential side effects usually include the classic round cup bruise that typically lasts for only 3-5 days depending on the strength of the treatment. The bruises don’t really hurt and the patient usually can’t see them. It is the other people in the cupped person’s life that usually has the strong reaction to the visual cupping marks. What has that acupuncturist done to you?!?

Well, that’s Chinese medicine at work. The micro trauma to the area kicks in the healing responses of the body and speeds up the recovery process. Those physiological chemicals that turn a bruise from purple to yellow also aid in healing soft tissue and reduce inflammation.

Does Cupping Hurt?

Cupping is not painful and the resulting bruises may generate slight soreness that won’t last long. Cupping feels like strong suction on the area cupped and usually feels like a heavy weight and the treatment usually lasts 5-15 minutes. Usually patients say things to me like “I feel a lot lighter” and, “my muscles feel great” after a cupping session.

Cupping with Sports Acupuncturist Glenn Kazmierski, LAc

I utilize cupping with manual therapy to treat a broad variety of sports injuries. In my practice I use cups followed by deep moist heat to increase more blood flow and diminish the cup marks. This is a good treatment for neck, shoulder and low back muscle spasms. I find that cupping is essential for chronic tendon injuries, such golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, and frozen shoulder. Because tendons lack circulation cupping is a good modality to bring blood to the area so it can finally heal.

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