What is cupping and how is it beneficial?
Olympic athletes other sports competitors are often seen with purple, circular bruises along their backs and shoulders. But don’t worry — these welts aren’t from a strange virus or training accidents. They’re the evidence of cupping — an ancient, alternative therapy that works to reduce pain and inflammation or speed up muscle healing.
In the simplest description, cupping works by attaching a glass cup to your skin that creates a vacuum. Traditionally, glass or bamboo cups are heated then cooled to a comfortable temperature before being placed on the problematic area (such as your back or shoulders). The cooling cup raises the skin and creates a vacuum, increasing blood flow to the area. After removing the cups, you may feel less pain or inflammation, though there will be the telltale circular bruises, which should subside in about a week to 10 days.
While the traditional treatment uses glass cups, modern therapists may use silicone cups or a rubber pump that creates a similar effect. Cups are usually attached for around three minutes and a normal session may only use three to five cups at one time.
There are a variety of reasons why someone may look into this treatment option or take the dive into trying this ancient kind of healing. The most common include:
Neck, back and shoulder pain: Because cupping promotes blood flow to inflamed areas, it can be used for pain relief, especially along the back, neck and shoulders. It can also help with muscle relaxation that reduces pain, and studies have shown that cupping can be comparable to other muscle relaxation techniques to lessen pain over time.
Arthritis: Cupping can be a beneficial tool for combating joint pains such as arthritis. By increasing blood flow to swollen or stiff areas, joint pain can be reduced without reliance on arthritis or pain relieving medications.
Muscle injuries: Muscle injuries can take some time to heal, but cupping can aid the process by pushing blood to the area. As blood flow increases, it can help stretch tight muscles and relieve pain, meanwhile helping the area heal faster.
Sports-related injuries: Cupping is popular among athletes and for good reason. It’s often a non-prescription way to help with sports-related pains and injuries. For active athletes who compete regularly, it can be one form of regular therapy that helps loosen muscles for improved performance and lessened chances of injury.
Relaxation: Cupping is similar to a massage — except that instead of applying downward pressure onto muscles, the vacuum created pulls skin upwards. Many patients find this treatment to be relaxing and often partake in “gliding cupping,” where cups are moved across their backs in a massage-like manner.
In some cases, cupping can also be beneficial for other ailments such as migraines, anxiety and fatigue, though results vary by person.
Highly skilled chiropractors, like Dr. Christopher Butler, are trained at helping you determine why your body aches and a healthy, natural solution that improves your quality of life. In some cases, cupping may be one option that painlessly relieves body pains — a natural alternative to medication or surgery.
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