A lot of people are asking about cupping, after seeing it proliferate the news during the Olympics this year. What are those big red/purple dots? What is it used for? Does it really work?
Cupping is a treatment that has been around for thousands of years. Hippocrates is even credited with using cupping for different structural disorders, while the ancient Egyptians used it for various internal diseases and beauty regimens.
More commonly known, is the use of cupping in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM practitioners use what is colloquially called "Flash Cupping", "Fire Cupping", or "Glass Cupping". These methods use glass cups and create a negative pressure, pulling stagnant blood out of the capillaries in the skin. This is what causes those very distinctive purple marks seen on the athletes during the Olympics, and on many Hollywood starlets during Oscar season.
Cupping is used mostly for acute muscular issues, or chronic issues involving the fascia under the skin, which is a very thin connective tissue connecting all the skeletal muscles of the body. Athletes like to use cupping after training hard, as it flushes out the muscles and allows them to heal faster. We commonly see competitive swimmers, runners, and Crossfitters asking for cupping therapy. A faster healing time, and a few seconds edge could mean the difference between first and second place.
Also, people with chronic pain can often benefit from cupping. Normally, a fat-like substance builds up between the layers of fascia in our bodies as we sleep. When we wake in the morning, the normal movement of our bodies is enough to melt that substance and allow the layers of fascia to glide over each other like they should. When we are injured, however, many times we favor a joint or muscle, and try not to move that area of the body. As a result, this fat-like layer builds up more and more and more, eventually not allowing us proper movement. This is the "stiff" or "stuck" feeling people get after a long-term injury, or even a short-term injury that is not treated properly. Cupping treatment facilitates the movement of the different layers of fascia over each other.
As you can see, cupping has a long and multi-faceted history. What seems like such a simple treatment is able to help with many different issues in the body. If you think cupping could benefit you, go ahead and give it a try! When properly done, cupping should not hurt, and most people find the experience very relaxing, almost like that of a massage. If you have any questions or would like to know more, feel free to email us or give us a call!