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A Basic Guide to Cupping Therapy

November 1, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by Angela Kung Acupuncture & Wellness Center
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If you’re curious about cupping and want to know if it’s something worth trying to alleviate your aches and pains, here’s your basic guide to cupping therapy.

Ancient roots

Cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years. The first reported cupping practices were said to have been in Egypt in around 1500 BC. It forms part of ancient healing practices, and its development is commonly attributed to China, where it is still in common practise to this day.

So cupping isn’t anything new. However, recent interest in cupping therapy can be attributed to the exportation of the practice to the Western via migration and increased interest in alternative therapies.

What is cupping?

Because of its name, there are no prizes for guessing what practitioners use on your body: that's right, cups! Cups made of glass, clay, or bamboo were traditionally used for cupping therapy. These cups are placed on the patient’s skin, and a vacuum inside draws blood to the surface.

The vacuum then causes the skin to rise, drawing blood and tissue to the surface. The effect of this is likened to a kind of deep tissue massage. The cups are usually kept in place for about three minutes, or moved around with the use of therapeutic oils.

What does cupping do?

Since the suction mimics tissue manipulation and increases the blood flow to the area, the muscles are essentially being pulled upward. This helps get rid of muscle tension and treats muscle scarring.

In Eastern medicine, cupping is considered essential in the realignment of qi, or the flow of energy. Using the principle of the body’s different meridian channels, cupping therapists aim to unclog or open up these channels to get rid of specific ailments or attain health benefits, including:

• Back and neck pain

• Hastening recovery from illness

• Helping reduce stress and tension

• Increasing energy levels

• Improving digestive function

• Realigning the body’s natural energy

In Western therapies, cupping is usually used to treat back, neck, and shoulder pain. It is also often used together with acupuncture. Cupping is done to alleviate pain, relax the muscles and activate healing in the damaged tissues.

Is cupping effective?

There are not enough scientific studies and documentation that prove or show the efficacy of cupping. However, fans of cupping swear by its effectiveness and have made it a part of their health routine.

But whether or not you believe that a cupping session can influence your qi or not, it is a relaxing experience for most people. The massaging effects of cupping therapy are undisputed, and its ability to increase blood flow to problem areas is proven. For the most part, people who practice complementary therapies find cupping beneficial for reducing pain. It also gives them a peaceful break from the pressure of day-to-day life.

Where to experience cupping therapy

Most acupuncturists also offer cupping treatments as these two therapies are complementary. Some physiotherapists and massage therapists also offer cupping treatments.

If you’re curious, or simply want to try cupping or other forms of alternative therapy, all you need to do is get in touch with us at the Angela Kung Acupuncture & Wellness Center.