The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are right around the corner, and we thought it would be the perfect time to discuss cupping therapy, a treatment option made popular by Michael Phelps during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. While the treatment may be trendy now, it’s actually not new. In fact, cupping dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C.
How does cupping therapy work?
Cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that’s based on the belief that certain health problems can be caused by stagnant blood and a poor energy flow through your body. The treatment involves applying glass or silicone cups to the skin to create pressure. (We use silicone cups at our clinics.) The suction promotes blood flow to the affected areas, which in turn helps stimulate the natural healing process to relieve tension and inflammation in the muscles.
What conditions can cupping therapy help treat?
The British Cupping Society says that cupping therapy is used to treat:
- Back pain and neck pain
- Knee pain
- Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
- Headaches and migraines
- Anxiety and depression
- Bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma
- Varicose veins
Is cupping therapy safe?
As long as it’s performed by a trained healthcare professional, cupping is a safe and effective treatment option for patients of all ages. It is not recommended for anyone with a history of bleeding disorders, blood clotting conditions or seizures.
- Relieving muscle pain and tightness – Cupping is a safe treatment option that helps resolve chronic muscle tightness and pain by promoting blood flow to the affected area(s).
- Increasing circulation – The suction from the cups increases circulation to the area where the cups are placed. The additional blood flow to that area helps relieve muscle tension and promote cell repair.
- Promoting detox – Targeted blood flow helps your body by flushing built-up toxins through the lymphatic system, which is responsible for eliminating your body’s toxins and waste.
- Reducing anxiety – Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for slowing your heart rate, assisting in digestion and increasing intestinal activity. Cupping helps promote deep relaxation by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system.
What should you expect after treatment?
Depending on your condition, you may experience mild discomfort after treatment. The suction force from cupping breaks open tiny blood vessels under the skin, which can leave round bruise-like marks that fade within a week or two.