Cupping therapy is an ancient, effective way to relieve muscle pain and stiffness. This technique has existed for millennia, all over the world. It was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, a 3,500-year-old ancient Egyptian medical text, and has been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine since approximately 300 CE.
This technique focuses on the physical restoration of specific muscles and the treatment of the body as a whole. The cups target muscles, specifically the neck and back muscles, but the healing technique increases blood flow and draws toxins from all over the body to the cupping site.
If you experience back pain, muscle pain, stiffness, or discomfort in the head, neck, or back, cupping therapy might be helpful for you. This ancient practice, perfected over the centuries, has healed people from ancient emperors and pharaohs to modern Olympians like Michael Phelps.
What is Cupping?
Cupping therapy is a therapeutic practice where glass, ceramic, bamboo, or silicone cups are heated and applied to your body. They can be placed almost anywhere, but the most common locations are the neck and back.
When the heated air inside the cup cools, it forms a vacuum seal with the skin on your back and pulls the muscle up, while the natural suction force breaks tiny blood vessels in your skin called capillaries. These combined forces cause your body to activate its natural healing process and send more oxygenated blood to the muscle, relaxing the muscle fibres and leaving behind any toxins.
Depending on your needs, the cupping therapist leaves the cups on your back for 5 to 15 minutes. Then the cup is removed by sliding it across your back for an added massage and greater comfort when popping off the cup.
What is Cupping Used to Treat?
Cupping therapy is primarily used to treat neck and back pain, but the treatment can also be used to alleviate numerous other conditions. There is growing evidence that cupping can be used to treat some psychological conditions in addition to physical discomfort. Some popular uses of cupping include:
- Stiff muscles
- Knee arthritis
- Facial paralysis
Cupping is also effective as general preventative medicine for people in good health. A regular cupping session can help you maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system and preventatively treat potential issues.
How Does Cupping Therapy Work?
Cupping therapy has both a physical and a philosophical dimension. Physically the suction of the cup pulls on your muscle tissue, causing the fibres to stretch, loosening any tight areas and knots. The suction also increases blood flow to the skin and muscles, which helps heal stiff and tight areas.
The philosophy of cupping therapy is based on the Chinese belief in Qi (pronounced Chi). Qi is a complex idea that refers to the flowing life force that moves in and between all living things.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, many illnesses and ailments are caused by Qi disruptions, misdirections, or stagnation. If your Qi is not flowing correctly, or if your Qi is not in harmony with the greater Qi around you, you may become sick or have pain. The key to good health is ensuring that your Qi is flowing and harmonious.
The treatment for blocked Qi is reopening the pathways and correcting the flow. Cupping therapy works by increasing blood flow and directing it to areas of discomfort. This opens the Qi pathways and allows the proper flow of Qi throughout your whole body. This way, a cupping session can do far more than correct back pain; it can also have many physical and psychological benefits throughout your body.
Cupping is often used with other Qi-based medical practices like acupuncture, meridian massage, and reflexology to provide a further opening of Qi passageways.
How Effective is Cupping Therapy?
The effectiveness of cupping therapy is the subject of ongoing study. While the concept of Qi is more of a philosophical belief, cupping has been proven to be effective beyond simply relieving back pain and other muscle pain and has had unexpected positive effects across the body.
A 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to determine how well different therapies, including cupping, compared with placebo trials and other medical treatments. The trials found no adverse side effects associated with cupping and that it was effective compared with a placebo. However, the doctors want to confirm their results with a more extensive study.
Other trials have found that various forms of cupping therapy have been documented to positively affect back and chronic back pain. While doctors from Harvard Medical School observed several positive effects for patients who underwent cupping but were unable to determine exactly why and exactly what physical mechanism was the catalyst for the healing actions.
Scientists seem to know that cupping therapy is effective, but they are still searching for the exact process that reveals how cupping therapy works. However, as there are no known side effects, the fact that it works has led many people to regularly undergo cupping therapy for preventative and therapeutic treatments for issues ranging from back pain to depression to arthritis.
Ancient and Effective Treatment
Cupping therapy is an effective treatment that can help relieve many different ailments. If you are suffering from pain or discomfort and are curious about how cupping therapy works, contact a cupping practitioner at Wayne Massage on (02) 8073 9376 today to learn how this ancient treatment could be the key to living a life free of pain and discomfort.
The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action
Traditional Chinese medicine for neck pain and low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis
The Use of Wet Cupping for Persistent Nonspecific Low Back Pain: Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial
What exactly is cupping?