by Josh Zimmer, DOM Licensed Acupuncturist
The ancient medical modality of Cupping grew famous during the Rio Olympics thanks to the big round purple marks that swimmers like Michael Phelps proudly sported before viewing audiences around the world.
Questions inevitably arose: what is Cupping and what does it do?
Not surprisingly, references are sparse in Western medical literature. But in the Traditional Chinese Medicine field, Cupping is a star among equals in its ability to treat musculoskeletal pain, soreness and dysfunction.
Essentially, the suction created by Cupping draws an immediate rush of blood to the site, breaking up tissue adhesions that are causing pain or blocking normal movement. In Phelps’ case, you can see why the cup marks were centered around his shoulders and scapulae.
In Fire Cupping, the oldest method and the one used on Phelps, an alcohol-laden medium is lit and inserted into the cup to eliminate all ambient oxygen. Once the fire is retracted, the cup is ready to be placed on the body and provide suction. It all happens in a matter of seconds.
A more modern approach involves attaching a suction pump to the cups. No fire. They both work, although purists – like myself – might argue that the ancient technique is more energetically healing.
Done properly, there’s not the slightest danger of burning.
Cupping isn’t just for pain, either. It’s an excellent therapeutic option for all kinds of respiratory conditions. Cups placed on the upper back help break up often-stubborn Lung mucous in cases of cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). “Moving” Cupping, a variation in which applied oil allows the cups to be moved across broad sections of the body while maintaining the suction, reduces fevers by opening up the pores and releasing heat.
The marks that Cupping leaves behind are considered a small price to pay for the relief they provide. As dark and swollen as they look at times, they don’t leave scars. Instead, the marks gradually dissipate as the body heals.
Said one M.D. who just happens to be a Cupping aficionado: “Basically, it feels like getting a hickey.”
Four Pillars offers a wide range of acupuncture treatments. Call us today! 941-373-3955
In addition to our Acupuncture Cupping Sessions, Four Pillars also offers Cupping Therapy as an ADD-On incorporated into Therapeutic Massage Treatments.