Cupping: An Olympic News Story
The ancient art of cupping became very high profile during the Olympics as photographs emerged of American swimmer Michael Phelps covered in strange purple ring marks on his back. Apparently some thought he had been in a bar fight or had been attacked by some insect. Others thought he had engaged in some strange ritual, which I suppose in a way he had.
How it Works
As a practitioner of this healing technique I place specialized cups on the skin and then use an air pump to create suction between the cup and the skin, pulling the skin slightly up and away from the underlying muscles. Physiologically, cupping is thought to draw blood to the affected area, reducing soreness and speeding healing of overworked muscles. In Chinese Medicine terms it promotes the circulation of Blood and Qi; the darker the circles are the poorer the circulation is in that area of the body. Athletes who use it swear by it, saying it keeps them injury free and speeds recovery. The US gymnast Alex Naddour is quoted in USA today as saying that cupping is “better than any money I’ve spent on anything else”.
How Can it Help You?
If you have back or joint pain, especially pain that wakes you at night or is painful when you are resting, cupping may be a very good treatment for you. In Chinese Medicine the pain is worse after resting because there is a block in the flow of Blood and Qi which movement and exercise helps to clear. The cups help to pull the blockage to the surface helping to relieve the tension. I first had cupping for a problem last year when I had a pain in my shoulder that was waking me up at night. The first time I had cups applied my shoulder immediately felt lighter. I needed several treatments and not just cupping, but I always felt the benefit of it and it was an important part of my treatment.
There have been few medical studies carried out regarding cupping, and the ones that have need further information to make decision as to its effectiveness. However one study of 61 people with chronic neck pain compared cupping to a technique called progressive muscle relaxation, or P.M.R., during which a patient deliberately tenses his muscles and then focuses on relaxing them. Half the patients used cupping while the other half used P.M.R. Both patient groups reported similar reductions in pain after 12 weeks of treatment. Notably, the patients who had used cupping scored higher on measurements of well-being and felt less pain when pressure was applied to the area. Even so, the researchers noted that more study is needed to determine the potential benefits of cupping.
Another study of 40 patients who suffered from knee arthritis found that people who underwent cupping reported less pain after four months compared to arthritis sufferers in a control group who were not treated.
Special Offer: If you would like to try cupping for a musculoskeletal problem I am offering a one-off cupping only treatment of £30 for 30 minutes. Please call me on 07733274745 to discuss and arrange an appointment.
Please note there are contraindications for cupping: skin diseases, haemophilia, leukaemia, cardiac or renal failure , broken bones and dislocations. If in doubt check with your practitioner.