Do you remember 2016 at all? I know, it was four years ago and a lot as happened since then, but there is a reason why I asked. If you were a fan of the Olympics, you may have caught a glimpse of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. One scene that I remember so clearly is watching Michael Phelps and other US swim team members get into the water with these giant dark circles covering their backs and bodies. Have you ever thought about what those might be? If you are new to the self-care game or simplly out-of-the-loop when it comes to new health and lifestyle trends, you may have missed out on hearing about the massage technique known as "cupping".
What Is Cupping?
Cupping is an old traditional Chinese medicinal practice that as spread through ancient civilizations in Egypt and the Middle East. This therapy as been written about in one of the oldest medicinal textbooks ever, known as the Ebers Papyrus that dates back to 1,550 BC. The alternative medicine utilizes these old techniques, using cups made from glass, bamboo, earthenware, and silicon, that are inserted onto the skin to create suction. During your session, the cupping therapist traditionally will light a flammable material or substance, such as herbs, papers, or alcohol on fire to heat the cup, placing it on your back when the fire goes out to create a vacuum seal. The cup then sits on your body for about three to five minutes while it cools down, soon causing the skin to redden and the blood vessels to expand. These motion and act creates numerous benefits for the body. This is what we have found.
Cupping and the Body
When the vacuum seal is created when the heated cup is attached to your skin, you are effectively treating the fascia and connective tissue, allowing for increased blood flow throughout the body. This can help stimulate healing within the body, usually being placed on the back, neck, shoulders, or the site of the pain. Cupping does create minimal bruising on the body which is only temporary, but traditional Chinese medicine believe that this shows that the therapy was effective in removing toxins and stagnation within the body.
Traditional Chinese medicine argues that stagnation in the blood and an imbalance of qi (chi) is what causes diseases within the body. Qi is the free vital flow of energy within our bodies and the world around us, and a stagnation and imbalance of qi can result in blockages in the body. By using cupping as a therapy, you are essentially creating an invigorating circulation of qi and blood within the body. You are bringing imperfections within the body to the surface, removing the toxins that are shown through the bruising of the body. U.S. physiologist and acupuncturist Helene Langevin has also found that cupping can help reduce inflammation, while elevating levels of relaxation within your body.
Long-Term Effects of Cupping
With the benefits of muscle relaxation, reduced inflammation, and an increase of blood flow through the body, there is much more that cupping therapy can do! Cupping therapy can help improve overall physical health, while removing energy blockages that traditional Chinese medicine as declared as creating barriers of qi. However, cupping can also help decrease lung disorders such as coughing and asthma or other bronchial congestion, aid in paralysis or pain in the body, and also can reduce eczema, acne, depression, arthritis, diabetes, insomnia, and more.
With every cupping therapy, it is necessary to know that there are always side effects to each session that can occur. The side effects usually occur during your treatment or immediately after. During your treatment, you may feel yourself getting lightheaded or dizzy. After your treatment, you may even continue to feel nauseous. You may also find the skin where the cups were attached to be irritated and you may even experience pain near those spots.
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