I recently finished up my cupping certification in June with the International Cupping Therapy Association. I had been interested in this type of therapy for a couple of years after I had some limited work done by another practitioner. She was impressed by the effectiveness of the work in most people and I was impressed at the immediate relief I got from the nagging pain in my hip and quad that is always there after I run. Needless to say I was impressed enough to seek training, but more importantly to ask these questions: Who can benefit from cupping? Is it/can it be for everyone?
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The answer to these two questions is: Yes and No.
Cupping therapy is a traditional form of bodywork that has been utilized around the world for thousands of years. It has gained notoriety in the U.S. in recent years from high profile athletes and celebrities displaying the cup marks and lauding the benefits of the work. Athletes and celebrities aside, (because, let’s face it, most of us don’t have the time or resources to do many of the things that they do) can cupping therapy be beneficial to us in our quest towards comfort, pain relief, and health?
It’s a traditional therapy that has been around for thousands of years and still used all over the world. So what’s the deal with the U.S.? Why are we so slow on the uptake??? Well, there’s that word “traditional.” Equated to ineffectual, antiquated, holistic, alternative (the last two much more positive, depending how you view them). Many of these feelings/beliefs come from the the Western Medicine vs. Eastern Medicine debate. Whereas the scientific community does not/ is not able to quantify some of the Eastern Medicine practices or show proof that they work and thus dismissed. However, we are beginning to see a turn in this thought pattern as more research is emerging about the human body, the mind and the effect on both when we treat the whole person- body, mind and spirit (aka Eastern Medicine). Don’t get me wrong, western medicine has increased our life span, eradicated disease, and eased our discomforts, but there is a down side. Western Medicine has a fix-it mentality, as opposed to a preventive mind set. This has led to rising medical and insurance cost, drug addictions, and far too many people who have been left without any help. So, as I start to slide into the rabbit hole of health care I will pull myself back out and continue my thoughts on cupping therapy.
Cupping Therapy creates negative pressure with, yes you got it, cups: silicone, plastic, glass, magnetic and more. Negative pressure, simply put, is suction.. Negative pressure, rather than compression, lifts the skin and connective tissue (fascia) off and away from the bone, separating the layers to facilitate soft tissue release, break up restrictions, and increase blood and lymph flow thus restoring the system and creating healthy fascia. Healthy fascia, by the way, is soft, pliable and fluid-like. Many of us lacking in that department.
There are different types of cups, for different types of therapy, they can be stationary or moved based on what’s going on in the body and what we want to achieve. Stationary cups are just that, put on the body for a certain amount of time (usually 5-15 minutes) and then removed, this is generally where the cupping marks come from, which are broken capillaries. Moving the cups creates a pulling action, stretching and elongating the tissue which engages the parasympathetic nervous system allowing the body to enter deep relaxation. Most people report a pleasant pulling sensation and many fall asleep during this treatment.
While there is so much anecdotal evidence for cupping the research can’t pinpoint any single physiological effect that is taking place in the body, it seems to work at many different levels, which is hard to assess. What is evident is how people feel after treatment. It seems to be beneficial for many conditions including musculoskeletal injuries, trigger points, scar tissue, abdominal issues, neurological dysfunction, sinus issues, headaches, muscle aches, delayed onset muscle soreness, high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, Fibromyalgia, neuralgia, and myofascial dysfunction. While cupping alone can be beneficial, the therapeutic benefits when used in conjunction with massage and Myofascial Release Therapy increase the positive outcome of the therapy.
There are contraindications to cupping therapy, and there are those that should not have it done, but many people believe it is just for the very fit or athletic, which is far from the truth. While cupping therapy is not a “one size fits all” modality, most can benefit from some type of cupping. A qualified practitioner is trained to adapt the pressure to each individual. It can be on the obvious areas, like the back and legs, but also the hands and feet, the face, the abdomen, on small areas of scar tissue. It does not have to be aggressive to be effective, and, like any therapy, it is always very important to let your therapist know what medications you are taking, and any conditions that you have. If you are not sure if it is right for you, talk to your therapist or your doctor.
So, if I’ve piqued your interest in cupping (or if you have already enjoyed the benefits of cupping and want more) and you are ready to give it try, now is the time. I really want to share this amazing addition with you and/or someone you know who will benefit from it. So give it a try with this Awesome September Special. (90 minute massage with cupping for the 60 minute price). And use the special as many times as you want. But only during September.
Until next month,
Peace, Love & Healing