If you watched the Olympic swimming, you may have seen the dark red, perfectly round marks on some of the swimmers’ backs. There have been many articles explaining that these marks are the result of “cupping”, such as this one published by BBC. In sports medicine, cupping can help promote blood flow, and to loosen tight muscles and fascia, helping to speed up recovery, decrease soreness and keep the athlete in peak condition.
But this can apply to many types of muscle injury, not just those that result from a lot of training. Have you got a sore lower back from sitting at a desk all day? Have you got chronic pain in your shoulder from lifting heavy items at work? do you have tight IT bands from a long history of poor shoe support or a lot of running? Cupping may be an excellent addition to your rehabilitation routine.
“In sports medicine, cupping can help promote blood flow, and to loosen tight muscles and fascia, helping to speed up recovery, decrease soreness and keep the athlete in peak condition.”
It is traditionally performed by putting a flame into the cups before they are applied to the skin. The cooling air creates suction inside the cup, which pulls up on the skin. This stretches the underlying tissues and draws a lot of blood flow to the area, which speeds healing. At gesund, we use suction, instead of heat, so there’s no chance of experiencing a burn as a result of treatment.
Usually, cupping is not painful;
you feel a stretching sensation, and perhaps a feeling of warmth, and of course you may have bruises that last for a few days. However, with conditions that have been there for a while, or are over sensitive areas, the treatment can feel painful. For example, stretching out tight IT bands can feel quite sharp, as anyone who has used a foam roller in this area can attest to. But you can work with your practitioner to maintain a level of suction that is within your comfort level.
In traditional Chinese medicine, cupping can also be used to stimulate specific acupuncture points without the use of needles. In this regard, cupping can help with such things as muscle problems, pain relief, arthritis, insomnia, fertility issues, and cellulite, to name a few. It can help move the “qi” around, and clear “heat” conditions. Talk to one of our naturopathic doctors if you’d like to know more about this.
At gesund, cupping can be performed by our naturopathic doctors, physiotherapist, chiropractors or massage therapists. You will likely notice a change after one treatment, but you’ll probably need a few, perhaps in conjunction with other treatments to find the resolution, and it can be used for maintenance whenever you feel you’ve re-injured yourself, or could use a tune-up.
In health, Sarah Bowler, Naturopathic Doctor.