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Much Ado About Cupping

Cupping marks on Michael Phelps

If you have been watching any of the Olympic coverage, you may have noticed many of the American swimmers are covered in red dots. Yes, Olympic athletes are fans of cupping. Cupping therapy is nothing new in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncturists have been using this technique for thousands of years.  

What is Cupping?

Cupping is the use of glass or plastic cups on the body with negative pressure/suction to promote blood flow to the muscles or areas of the body. Yes, cupping is like a therapeutic hickey!  

What are the benefits of Cupping?

1. Promoting blood flow = Faster healing
In Chinese Medicine terms, we use cupping as a treatment for qi and blood stagnation in the body. When the qi and blood are stuck or stagnant, this results in pain and tightness in the muscles. Cupping increases blood flow and circulation to the muscles. This promotes faster healing of the tight or injured muscles.
2. It feels good
Think of a how good a deep tissue massage on tight muscles feels. Now imagine the same release without the pressure and pain of that deep tissue massage! Because cupping is pulling the muscle tissues, instead of pushing, the sensation is much more pleasant and relaxing.
3. Releases toxins
Chinese medicine theory doesn't really talk about "toxins" like we do today, but they do think that cupping can release trapped heat in the body (heat = inflammation and toxins). We use cupping for inflammation in the muscles, and for other "hot" conditions like coughs, colds, and other lung problems. 

I want cupping, where should I go?
Cupping should only be performed by a trained medical professional, like an acupuncturist. Acupuncturists have extensive training in cupping therapy, as it is part of their professional training and licensing requirements. At Whatcom Family Acupuncture cupping is typically done in conjunction with an acupuncture treatment and only after a thorough interview and health history is conducted. Please note that cupping may not be the right therapy for you, so talk with an acupuncturist today!