Something surfaced repeatedly in the media this week that seemed odd, and perhaps worth mentioning. However fascinating, a shirtless, photo-bombing Justin Trudeau is certainly nothing we haven’t seen before. What shocked me, however, (and I doubt I’m the only one who noticed) was his conspicuous absence of cupping marks. Perhaps a visit to Acubalance is in order while he’s in town? All that to say, cupping has been in the media in recent days,so it may be time to outline some of the facts, uses, risks, and benefits of the ancient traditional art of cupping.
What is Cupping?
Simply put, “cupping” consists of placing warm suction cups onto the skin, drawing the superficial tissues into the cup, thus releasing tension and pain. This may not seem particularly dramatic unless you take off your shirt, wear a backless gown, or compete in Olympic swimming, in which case the perfectly circular hickey-like bruises are quite dramatic indeed. US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps did not disappoint in Rio this week when he displayed his impressive cupping marks, and that’s got everyone asking why.
Cupping can be used by itself or with acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of ailments. It increases local circulation and reduces inflammation to relieve pain. I always describe it to my patients like a “reverse massage”, where we pull out the tissues rather than pressing in. The increase in blood flow feels warm, and many patients feel the pain begins to subside after the first treatment.
What Conditions Can be Treated With Cupping?
The results are sometimes dramatic, but pain is far from the only condition cupping can treat. I have seen excellent results with chronic asthma, for example, as the accessory breathing muscles are recruited in the body’s response to breathlessness. Often times, releasing those muscles can ease the severity of the symptoms. Recently, I saw dramatic results with cupping for a severely nauseous pregnant patient. She was able to cut her diclectin dose in half within the first two days, and continued to improve over the following week, eventually adding back many of her favourite foods.
Cupping Side Effects
The only side effect to cupping is the livid, purple bruises that denote that blood circulation has been ignited and brought to the surface. For most people, the initial sensation is startling as the tissues are drawn up into the cup. Many describe it like a slight pinch. This sensation dissipates after a few minutes and begins to feel like a good stretch. Many people experience a feeling of sliding, as though the cups are moving slowly across their back. Although the cups are stationary (they’re firmly attached, and not going anywhere), the sliding sensation results from the layers of fascia slowly unwinding as the tension is released.
Contact Us for an Appointment or Free Consult - Cupping Vancouver
Cupping therapy is an ancient healing modality that has remained popular in many parts of the world for hundreds of years. If you’d like to try it, or have any questions, book a free 15 minute consultation today.