The topic of “cupping” has come up in the news recently. Many summer Olympians had circular red marks on their skin from recent cupping sessions. Since our office offers a variety of bodywork to clients, I have had many individuals ask me what cupping is and if it is effective.
At times “cupping” has been accused of being a pseudoscience without any validity. This could not be further from the truth. Cupping works by providing reverse pressure to an area of soft tissue, most commonly a muscle segment.
This Process Helps to Achieve Three Things
- First, the process helps to reduce inflammation. Inflammation causes heat, redness swelling and is prohibitive to healing.
- Secondly, it helps to oxygenate tissue that is undergoing ischemia. What does that mean? I will break it down for you.
Tissue that is under chronic repetitive stress (or in some cases severe sudden stress) will undergo ischemia. Ischemia is cell death due to lack of oxygen.
The term is most commonly used to refer to the heart or brain during a heart attack or stroke. However, it can and does occur in muscle tissue. Cupping brings oxygen back into the tissue that is starving of oxygen allowing it to heal.
- Lastly, cupping will increase range of motion in many cases. As inflammation decreases and oxygen flow increase, it becomes easier to move a specific joint. In fact many athletes will have “active” cupping sessions in which the practitioner will have him or her motion a specific joint during the treatment. This is a common and effective treatment around the rotator cuff where specific muscles tend to be inflamed.
Cupping is Often Associated With Chinese Relaxation Practices
These practices discuss the flow of chi or energy and release toxins after a cupping session. Many times such practices become the target of criticism from others. However, as you can see there are very real, positive physiological effects from receiving a cupping session.
You may be asking – “is cupping only beneficial for an athlete?”
The answer is NO. Cupping can be used to treat a variety of conditions many of which develop over a long period of time.
At our Ann Arbor office, we see many office workers that suffer from significant shoulder, elbow and wrist stress due to poor ergonomics. These clients benefit greatly from chiropractic care as well as other forms of bodywork on their muscles and ligaments.
If you are considering cupping therapy, ask your chiropractor if it is right for you or contact us today to schedule a consultation.