Cupping has recently gotten its debut with Olympic swimmers such as Michael Phelps, as it is used extensively to promote healing of sore muscles, drawing fluid into the area. With its origination in Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures, cupping dates back thousands of years – but Americans have become much more in tune to this practice as it has been shown to help ease pain and manage other health problems. As emphasized by Harvard Health, cupping is considered safe, but could result in bruising, burns, and/or skin infections (though not common). Cupping could be very beneficial for those experiencing back and neck pain, skin diseases such as acne and hives, lowering cholesterol, migraines, knee arthritis, and more.
There are many types of cupping, depending on the need and preference. Here are a few with brief descriptions:
- Empty cupping – quick application, with medium to strong strength; cups remain in place for a short time, typically less than 1 minute
- Moving cupping – oil is applied to the skin before the suction is created from the cups – the cups are then gently moved across the skin to provide a form of inverse massage therapy
- Retained cupping – most commonly used in Chinese clinics, this method uses heating power to achieve suction
- Needle cupping – merged with acupuncture, small needles are placed at contact tension points in addition to cups suctioning to the skin for ultimate relief
- Moxa cupping – a “burning herb” is left to warm the skin, localizing blood congestion before cupping is used
A 2017 study published in the journal Complementary Medicine Research sought to explore the effectiveness of cupping on individuals with neck pain. A total of 50 patients were involved in the study, and were randomly assigned to either cupping or a wait list for a comparison group. The group with the cupping intervention experienced 5 cupping massages twice a week, while the other group continued their usual treatments. Patients in the cupping group reported significantly less pain than their counterparts, with favorable outcomes also leaning towards quality of life as it relates to pain, mental health, and functional disability.
As a holistic practice, cupping can be an excellent form of treatment for a variety of ailments. Start your journey to recovery today with this ancient yet effective approach.
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