An alternative to using acupuncture or deep tissue massage is cupping. This has been a safe and trusted method for centuries. Many athletes use this as a treatment option for pain, but it can be be used on anyone suffering from back or neck pain. There are many reasons why one would benefit from this form of treatment. It originally began in China, where they first discoverd this therapy by using animal horns. They eventually realized that using a cup would create a better suction and seal. If you're wondering more about how it all works, you'll find the answers here.
What is Cupping?
This is a method that's typically practiced by an acupuncturist that has received the proper training through an accredited school program, in order to ensure that they know how to safely use this method. You want to be sure that you're being treated by someone that is certified, and knows what they're doing. They typically use a bulb-shaped glass cup, but it can also be made of other material like plastic. After the acupuncturist places the cup on your skin, they create a vacuum suction by removing air with a pump. Other ways of removing air is by lighting a small flame on the inside of the cup. This is all done while using safety and precautionary measures.
It's a completely safe treatment method, and is very similar to getting a deep tissue massage. It has many benefits, and has proven to help professional athletes time and time again. It's very commonly used by athletes due to pain or injury. You'll see many of them walking around with the circular rings on their skin, that you commonly see after receiving this treatment. Although it can leave marks on your body from the suction, it should never cause you any pain. This type of therapy relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow. Only providing you with positive benefits.
There are two types of cupping therapy, which are called dry or wet. Dry is the one that's most commonly used, and means that it's suction only. Wet is an option that's not as popular, as it includes a combination of bleeding along with suction. It's not as bad as it sounds. A small hole is created on the skin using a lancet, which then allows a small amount of blood to be released. The reason they do it this way, is to try and remove toxins from your body.
Is it Painful?
You might be wondering if this type of treatment is painful. The answer is no, it should never cause you any pain or discomfort. Most people find it quite relaxing and beneficial. You might notice some skin irritation after having a treatment done, which is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. The suction can cause some redness or bruising afterwards, due to the increase of blood flow surrounding the tissue that's being suctioned. It doesn't hurt at all.
As long as you don't mind walking around with circular impressions on your skin, then it's nothing to worry about. It's easy to hide with clothing, and even if your skin is exposed most people will typically recognize what it is. It should go away within 1-2 weeks. In very rare circumstances, wet cupping can cause infection. But this is usually due to unsanitary measures, which is why it's so important to find someone that's certified. It's also a good idea to use your own judgement when making sure that your acupuncturist is taking safety precautions by sanitizing everything prior to your appointment.
What are the Benefits?
There are many benefits to using this method, and it's a common treatment used by professional athletes. That's a good sign of it's trustworthiness. It's most typically used for relieving muscle tension, and is also commonly used for decreasing muscle stiffness. It treats a variety of conditions. Those with musculoskeletal pain such as muscle, joint, and nerve pain.
It can even help individuals suffering from diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia. It's also proven to be beneficial for anyone with asthma, bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The reason this treatment is so beneficial is because the type of pain they treat, is typically considered stagnant. This simply means that the pain is in a localized area and doesn't move. It makes it much easier to treat the specific area that requires care.
- Treats anyone dealing with musculoskeletal pain.
Relieves muscle tension.
Decreases muscle tightness or stiffness.
Increases blood flow.
Improves skin appearance for those suffering with acne or other skin conditions.
Helps to alleviate breathing problems such as asthma or bronchitis.
Removes toxins from the body to prevent infectious diseases.
How Does it Work?
The cup is either warmed in advance to create a suction, or a pump is used to remove any air. Sometimes they will even light a small flame inside of the cup to create a vaccum suction, but this isn't as common as the other methods. All of these methods have the same end result, and that's to creates a vaccum suction around the skin. The reason this is done is because the pressure that's caused from the suction increases the blood flow to the tissue. This only works on the tissue that's being treated. Sometimes they will incorporate massage or acupuncture along with it, to also work on the surrounding areas. The increased blood flow has proven to provide many benefits.
What Does it Look Like?
It looks similar to a bulb or globe-shaped glass ball. Sometimes it's made of plastic, bamboo or other materials. But it's most common to find glass cups being used. Sometimes it has a narrow tube-like device sticking out of it, which is the pump that removes the air in order to create a vaccum sealed suction on the skin.
What Conditions Can Cupping Treat?
This can treat all forms of conditions. Anything from back or neck pain, to lung diseases. It also helps individuals with skin conditions such as the shingles or hives, by treating the affected areas. It can even improve diseases that cause inflammation, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. Many people believe that this can even boost your immune system by allowing the toxins to be removed from your body, using the wet technique. Here's an overview of who can benefit from this type of treatment:
- Anyone suffering from lung disease.
Skin conditions and disorders.
Back and neck pain.
Bone or joint pain.
Muscle aches, tension, or stiffness.
Common injuries such as a herniated disc.
As you can see, just about anyone can benefit from using cupping as a natural method for treating pain, and other disorders. You can use it at home, or you can try seeing a professional such as an acupuncturist that has experience in doing this kind of therapeutic work.