Cupping has gotten a lot of press lately, especially after the Olympics. Many athletes were pictured with large, unsightly round bruises on various parts of their bodies and the benefits of cupping were widely discussed. So here are the basics.
What is cupping?
Cupping is an ancient Chinese practice used to relieve many ailments. Today it is most commonly used for muscle aches and pains, though it can also be used for chest colds, skin conditions, arthritis and more. Cups are placed in specific areas on the body and suctioned tightly to the skin.
What does cupping do?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine most cases of pain are diagnosed as qi and blood stagnation. The reason for the stagnation depends on the patient but common causes are repetitive use of muscles, scar tissue, and inflammation/injury. A healthy body is one in which the qi and blood moves freely and without obstruction. When muscles knot or enflame or when scar tissue blocks one or more channels, the qi and blood cannot move as it should and this causes pain. By cupping the afflicted area, the stagnation of blood and qi rises to the surface of the skin and out of the damaged tissues helping to release tension and promote blood flow.
Does it hurt?
You might feel a tightness or a pulling sensation during the treatment and the circles that result may be a little tender for a day or two. Generally, people feel much better following a treatment.
How long do the circles last?
It depends on the patient. It is like a bruise. So, expect it to take as long as a bruise would take to heal.
Is it safe? Are there side effects?
Cupping is very safe. It is important to have the treatment performed by a licensed practitioner so that proper application is used. Side effects include mild discomfort and bruising. Blistering can occur if the cups are too tight or are left for too long. This is uncommon though.
Thank you to all the athletes who wear the (temporary) brand of our medicine!
Article written by Iris Martin, L.Ac, taken from Light & Joy Acupuncture newsletter 10/01/2016