Cupping involves placing cups on the skin to create suction and facilitate the flow of “qi” in the body. Qi is a Chinese word meaning life force.
The suction supports healing with blood flow. Cupping helps separate the myofascia from the muscle in order to release toxins and alleviate painful muscle adhesions. This modality helps to increase blood circulation, relax tight muscles and reduce pain.
A famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong, reportedly first practiced cupping. He lived from A.D. 281 to 341. Many Taoists believe that cupping helps balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive, within the body. Restoring balance between these two extremes is thought to help with the body’s resistance to pathogens as well as its ability to increase blood flow and reduce pain.
Cupping increases blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This may relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue. People use cupping to complement their care for a host of issues and conditions.
There are various types of “cups”, such as cups made from bamboo, ceramic, metal, silicone and plastic. Modern cupping is performed using glass cups that are rounded like balls and open on one end.
There are two main categories of cupping performed today:
The benefits of cupping include local pain relief and muscle relaxation. Cupping improves overall health by removing the energy blockages that TCM practitioners identify as barriers to the flow of healthy energy or Qi. For athletes, cupping may help increase blood flow to a particular muscle region or help reduce pain.
Other benefits include:
Cupping has a sedating effect on the nervous system, and many people find it profoundly relaxing. The suction will feel tight at first (not painful) while it draws your skin up into the cup. That sensation passes quickly as your therapist moves on to place the next cup. After placing each cup on your back, shoulder, abdomen, etc, your therapist will repeat the suction process. They’ll always check to make sure you’re still comfortable.
After a cupping treatment, clients typically report feelings of relief, muscular release, lightness, pleasant tingling, and freedom from pain and an increase in flexibility and muscular control. Contracted, tense and painful muscle tissue will soften quickly with just a few minutes of cupping.
The full benefits of cupping therapy are usually achieved after between 5 and 10 visits. Sometimes the benefits are noticed immediately but are short lived, in particular when dealing with emotional complaints or longstanding chronic problems. Ten sessions are considered to be one course of treatment, but this may vary depending on the condition being treated.
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