Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

Will Cupping Heal Your Pain?

October 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Olympic onlookers had some questions about the round purple colored bruise-like marks on some of their favorite athletes this summer. Swimmers Michael Phelps and Cody Miller, and gymnast Alex Naddour, displayed these marks on their body. This was due to a practice called “cupping.” Since the olympics, sales for cupping therapy equipment has sky rocketed, due to the success of the athletes.

What Is Cupping?

This ancient medicinal treatment is still used regularly in traditional Chinese medicine. Varying sizes of suction cups are stuck to the body, creating a suction that draws the blood to the skin’s surface, creating bruise-like marks.

Cupping is known to speed up healing by improving the blood circulation. It reduces pain by accelerating the body’s normal healing process. Olympians swear by this practice for recovery.

Does Cupping Help Pain?

Studies do confirm that cupping can help relieve pain. Especially combined with acupuncture, cupping shows significant benefit compared to conventional drugs or care. The benefits tend to be short term, but significant.

Cupping for Various Painful Conditions

Studies have found that cupping is able to significantly reduce chronic neck and shoulder pain, reducing this pain from a severity score of almost 10 to just over 3.5. The study also showed significant improvements in skin surface temperature and blood pressure.

Additionally, athletes who practice cupping reported significantly greater wellbeing and higher pain tolerance than those who only did progressive muscle relaxation practices. Research has also shown that there have been beneficial results on arthritic patients.

How to do Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy, also known as myofascial decompression therapy, uses a hand-held air pump to place cups around the body. The pumps extract air from the cup when it is placed on the skin, creating a suction. Glass cups are typically used with a little oil to lubricate the skin.

The cups can be slowly moved around, creating a massaging effect, or left in place. The cups remain on the body for up to five minutes and result in bruises that last a few days. are typically left on for three to five minutes. The resulting welts will typically vanish in a couple of days, much like a regular bruise.

Immune Response

Some researchers believe that cupping causes localized inflammation, and helps trigger the production of cytokine. This then adjusts the immune system response. While cupping increases blood flow, it also activates the immune system and stimulates mechanosensitive fibers in the body, which reduces pain.

Should You Try Cupping?

Cupping is inexpensive and easy to do. However, it is best to practice it with a licensed practitioner or doctor so it is done effectively and safely. It is important to avoid excessive suction on certain areas of the body. The back and the thighs can handle heavier suction than places with thin skin, such as the neck.

It is also important to not practice cupping on the head or face, so it is important to work with someone who knows the specific places a cup can and should be placed for its best results. Cupping will not injure you or cause harm, so it is a good thing to try to rule it out, if for no other reason. When it helps, it helps quickly and is very effective.

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Frank Salvatore