An ancient tradition with great benefits!
What? What’s that? That’s the response I get from people who’ve never experienced cupping.
The benefit is in the suction!
Chinese fire cupping is an ancient technique that involves placing heated cups over the skin, typically on the back. The placement of cups on specific acupuncture points helps the body in several ways. Unlike massage, which uses a pressing motion, the benefit of cupping is in the suction that occurs to the skin. This gentle suction, which can be made harder or softer, has many benefits. In fact, because this technique is so low tech, most people don’t even know about it. Who says that you need fancy machines to create a therapeutic effect. Here are some of the unique benefits of cupping.
- Reduces muscle spasm:
Chances are you have an achy, nagging stiffness or tightness located somewhere in your shoulders or lower back. We all do, thanks to sitting at a desk for 8 hours or working hunched over. Sound familiar? Cupping reduces muscle spasm and tightness in the muscles of the back and neck. It does so by increasing blood flow to the muscles. Muscles don’t typically get an immediate blood flow to it sine it is farthest away from the site of blood vessels. The skin that everyone sees, is actually the shedded skin from deeper in the body. This means that your muscles that you rely on for day to day work, is not receiving enough blood flow. This lack of immediate blood flow means waste products such as lactic acid, and cellular waste products build up in these areas. This “garbage heap” in the muscles leads to tightness, spasm, and even pain. Ever get pressed on the back of the shoulders and you screamed “ouch” because the muscles were so tight? This is an example of a tight muscle. Cupping relaxes spastic muscles and the effects can be instantaneous after even a single session.
- Enhancing Immunity:
In Chinese medicine, the skin acts as a barrier to the outside world and is considered part of the respiratory system (lungs). It shields the body from external harm from the environment. Ever “catch a draft” or were you ever told to “cover your neck in the winter”? This familiar motherly advice is actually rooted in this Chinese idea that excess cold, heat, damp weather can have adverse effects on the body. These climate influences can actually penetrate lodged in the muscle layer leading to colds, sinus infection, body aches of a cold or virus and even a tight neck or headache. Suffering from a “cold” means that the cold has penetrated deeply in the skin, through the pores, causing body aches, chills, shivering, and feeling fatigued. (In contrast virus and flus enter through the mouth and cause sore or difficulty swallowing. So the way to enhance immunity is to cup the skin in a rapid “on-off” fashion on the skin, calling up circulation to the skin level, which is indicated when the skin gets slightly flushed.
- Allergies and skin conditions:
Because of the connection of the skin to the immune system, stimulating the skin with cupping can help stimulate the immune system so it can have beneficial effects on skin conditions, such as eczema, and the effects of allergies as well.
Placing ups directly on the upper back in the vicinity of the lungs can help open up the diaphragm and regulate breathing. It is a great treatment for asthmatics especially during the cold winter months, when cold tends to worsen the asthma attacks. It is also a great treatment in treating coughs due to pneumonia. The gentle suction causes the alveoli, the small sac like structures in the lungs, to open easier, allowing for more surface area for taking in more oxygen, and for relieving the constricted feeling asthmatics and coughers experience.
Is that a bruise or a hickey?
One of the potential side effects of cupping can be a purplish “hickey” mark on the area cupped. This is in no way a bruise which is brown and associated with broken blood vessels waste products coming out of the muscles. It is not associated with pain, nor is there any blistering. The purple is not a bruise. Rather, it is the physical evidence of the waste products coming out of the skin. In severe whiplash cases, there usually is a darker purple-ish hue that occurs after cupping. This is a great sign, as it shows that the waste products are being cleared from the muscles. However, to minimize bruising you can simply adjust the pressure and retain the cups for a shorter time period to eliminate any discoloration. Again discoloration, is a good sign, not painful, but can be also avoided.
Are there any reasons not to cup?
We do not cup people who have high fever, who have convulsions and for areas of broken skin or ulcerated sores. Outside of that, it is very safe.
The best part about cupping, it does not penetrate the skin, and it uses no medications. It truly is a safe and easy way to aid the body. This ancient technique is making a comeback.
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