Thanks to Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps, cupping is now a household term. And while it’s a preferred treatment by the most decorated Olympian ever, is cupping just for athletes? Or does it benefit the average weekend warrior or Anthem resident, too?
The short answer – cupping is for more than just those who demonstrate amazing feats of strength and speed. And it’s not a new fad; it’s actually been helping people for many years. Cupping is part of Chinese Medicine. The ancient treatment was first used to purge toxins from the body. Later it became a popular way to treat muscle tension, pain and injury.
The objective is to get the stagnant blood and energy (qi in Chinese Medicine) moving. Cupping causes minor injury to the area being treated, so the concept is that the injury triggers the body’s natural healing process. Special glass suction cups are placed over the affected areas, drawing blood to the soft tissue and increasing blood circulation. The cups can stay in one spot or be slid around, then they are removed after several minutes.
For an elite athlete like Phelps, cupping can be therapeutic both before and after a race. Before competition, it can get fresh blood and energy flowing to muscles and tendons, keeping them loose and less prone to injury. After competition, the treatment helps to speed the body’s natural healing process, repairing and replenishing tissue. This can greatly reduce recovery time (especially when its only minutes between races).
Phelps’ circular red marks are the telltale sign of cupping and the most apparent side effect. These marks are caused by blood vessels bursting near the skin, a natural reaction to the treatment, and can last for up to five days. Slight muscle soreness can also accompany the treatment, usually for just a day or two.
So for the amateur athlete or the average Joe with tight muscles, cupping provides the same muscle-loosening, injury-reducing, quick-recovery benefits. It could help your golf swing, your marathon training or your gardening. But it is NOT for everyone.
It’s very important to remember that cupping is a medical treatment, and that is a form of purging. Just like bleeding, sweating, vomiting and diarrhea, too much is not good. In fact, purging can be depleting to someone who is already weak from a compromised immune system, other treatments or general poor health. In fact, the dangers of cupping to someone who can’t handle it can include serious side effects like fatigue, drops in blood pressure, lightheadedness, muscle cramping and excessive bleeding.
Are You a Good Cupping Candidate?
So how do you know if cupping will be a good treatment option for you? You seek treatment from a Chinese Medicine specialist trained in cupping. Unfortunately, the treatment itself is very easy to perform, so many people think they can do it on their own. There are YouTube videos and kits available on Amazon. But only a trained practitioner will know how to diagnose the medical condition, understand the disease symptoms, and know which treatment is best. This expertise and care is crucial in obtaining the best and safest results.
At Pure Health and Wellness, our own Leah Chischilly is trained in cupping. The treatment is often used in conjunction with our other therapies, like chiropractic care, acupuncture and acupressure. Curious in learning more? Contact Pure Health and schedule a cupping consultation today!