What is cupping, and why is it suddenly so popular? Well when a bunch of Olympic athletes show up with salami-like circles all over their bodies people start asking questions. Cupping is the answer.
It’s a manual therapy that uses a vacuum to release tension. And those marks all over your back? They’re actually NOT bruises. A common misconception, and an easy one to make; they certainly look like bruises. The reason that cupping marks aren’t bruises is that a bruise is caused by broken blood vessels. The blood vessels tear, and blood leaks out. Cupping marks are caused by suction, and DON’T damage your blood vessels. Though the blood still comes out of your vessels… but that is actually a good thing! Because all the healthy, functional blood just leeches right back in; it’s how they’re supposed to work. But those giant purple or blue marks? That’s all clotted, dead, non-functional blood. It got sucked out, and stayed out, because it couldn’t get back inside. Now imagine, all that was stuck in your blood vessels, blocking the movement of your healthy functional blood from bringing precious oxygen to your muscles. Is it any wonder they were tight and painful?
Cupping is very popular because, well, it feels good. Have you ever heard the analogy that muscles are like blue-tack? When they’re dry and cold, they’re hard and stiff. Warm them up, exercise them regularly, and they become soft and stretchy. Well exactly the same thing happens when they don’t get enough blood. Pain, tightness, trigger points. All this comes about because your muscles aren’t getting what they need. Cupping gets the blood moving again, which means your muscles can get moving again, and so can you.
Now, it’s important to note that cupping is a symptomatic treatment. It doesn’t treat the root cause of your pain or muscular tension. Most of the time that’s due to things like postural problems, old injuries, nutritional issues, and lifestyle factors like sitting down at work for long hours. Teasing out the knots of a root cause can be tricky, and isn’t usually a one-and-done. But cupping can offer relief, and frankly that’s really what most of us are looking for.
Does it hurt? A good question, and a common one. Cupping should never be painful. It can feel strong, like the end of your vacuum cleaner pressed against your skin, but that’s it. If you’re feeling pain you must tell your practitioner. Everyone is different, and what’s painful for you could be pleasant for others. Loosening the pressure in a cup is very easy and only takes a moment.
What is cupping used for?
- Relieving pain: Muscle pain that isn’t due to injury is usually caused by hypoxia. That’s the medical word for not enough oxygen. More blood means more oxygen which means less pain.
- Improving circulation: Removing blockages improves circulation. The blood carries everything in our body; oxygen, nutrients, waste products. Better circulation means a healthier body.
- Reducing stress and anxiety: Many people carry stress in their neck and shoulders. When stress creeps in, our shoulders start to round forwards and tighten – pulling our neck forwards. Loosening this area can have a calming effect.
Got any questions about cupping? Keen to try it? Book an appointment with Misha now!
Misha Amour is an Acupuncturist at Well2. He has a special interest in working with musculoskeletal issues and sports injuries.
Misha is now offering 30 minute cupping therapy treatments, or can incorporate cupping as part of a standard acupuncture treatment
You can read more about Misha here
For bookings with Misha use our online booking form, or phone the clinic on 8362 6622
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