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All about cupping...
Since the last olympics cupping has started to spread in popularity, but often there is still a lot of misunderstands associated with it! To start I have heard over and over that it must hurt, because how else could it leave bruises like that. So lets dive into this first.
The marks left by cupping is not bruises as we think of them. The marks are caused by the vacuum created by the cup. The vacuum causes the skin to rise and become red because the blood vessels are expanding. I like to refer to these marks as octopus kisses! And cupping doesn't hurt it feels more like a deep tissue massage. So pretty delicious!
Why do some people have darker marks than others after cupping? This can have a lot to do with the type of cupping, but I have found it has even more to do with the stagnation that the cupping is treating. Primarily the marks that you saw all over Michael Phelps body was due to retention cupping. This is where you leave the cups in one place, instead of moving them around as in sliding cupping. But, sliding cupping can also cause the red-purple marks and this often has to do with stagnation.
Typically the darker the marks left the higher the level of stagnation. These marks will also stay based on the level of stagnation. The longer the marks stay usually between 3-7 days the deeper the internal stagnation. When there is very little stagnation the marks can disappear within minutes. With my time in practice I have found that the more cupping that is done the less dark the marks are, which proves the point that cupping really is helping with the movement and blood flow of the area, causing the stagnation to decrease each treatment.
So your not an olympian? Is cupping still for you? Yes! It can be used to help with pain and inflammation, blood flow, and relaxation. I often treat patients with back pain and cupping along with acupuncture has proven itself time and time again to so beneficial. But cupping is great for anyone, you don’t have to have pain to receive a cupping treatment. It can also be used as prevention or just for relaxation!
In my practice I use a mix of retention and sliding cupping, and for the most part this part of the treatment is done after the needling section. I leave the needles in for about 30-45 minutes, remove the needles, and then add cupping at the end to finish the treatment.
One specific case is that of a 29 year old firefighter I treat. His main complaint is back pain, generally right near his scapula from carrying heavy loads to and from the truck. Acupuncture on it own helps to specifically target the knots that have built in his muscles. But the addition of cupping helps to reduce the pain and move the stagnation out of the area. He usually leaves my session with more than one octopus kiss! But the more often he comes in the less marks that get left on his back!
Another case is that of a 25 year old female who holds her stress in one spot on her low back, and has had a little knot there for as long as she can remember! Massage can help relieve the pain short term, but the knot remains! On our first treatment for this specific problem I surrounded the knot with needles, which helped to reduce the knot, but only with the help of cupping could we get that little guy to finally let go of the muscle it was so attached to! She left that appointment completely pain and knot free!
So when I cupping not the right choice? If your wedding or family photos are within the next few days after your appointment :) No one wants those circle marks in every photo! You acupunctures will warn you about potential marks before the treatment, but we wont know how long those marks will last, so its better to not get cupped at least a week before any major events that you may want to show off some skin at!
For more information about cupping and if it can specifically benefit you please feel free to contact me! Besides receiving cupping as part of your acupuncture treatment I also offer cupping as a treatment on its own! This is great for quick tune ups in between sessions!
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