You may have seen athletes on TV with circular marks on their shoulders or low back. The 2016 Olympic games became famous for these markings on the swimmers’ backs. Even though cupping has become more popular recently, it has been around for thousands of years.
Cupping is a form of alternative medicine where a therapist places a small, round cup on the skin. The cups are usually made of glass, plastic, or silicone. The provider will specifically place the cup, or they could move it around the area of pain and discomfort. The suction created by the cups is thought to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation. It's also applied to help alleviate pain and other symptoms. Cupping therapy is usually done in conjunction with massage therapy, acupuncture, or chiropractic care.
So How Does Cupping Work?
Cupping therapy begins by creating a negative vacuum inside the cup. When it's placed directly on the skin, there is an upward pressure, pulling the skin and underlying tissue into the empty space of the cup. There are several theories about how Chinese cupping therapy may work, but the exact mechanisms are not perfectly understood. The suction involved in the cups stimulates local blood flow, which stimulates the antibodies, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and regulates neurotransmitters.
What Does That Mean for the Patient?
In short, stimulating the blood flow and lymphatic fluid reduces inflammation and improves circulation near an injured area. Additionally, cupping may also help to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are the “feel-good chemicals” that help reduce pain and provoke feelings of well-being.
Cupping therapy may help reduce tension and loosen muscles. It improves flexibility by alleviating tight muscles directly under the skin.
How Can You Apply The Cups?
Providers commonly apply the cups to areas with significant muscle and soft tissue. This includes the neck, the back, between the shoulders, across the chest, hips, glutes, thighs, calves, and across your abdomen.
More research is needed to fully understand how cupping therapy works. The results at Lake Effect focus on improved circulation and blood flow to speed up the healing process of an injured area. It also feels good!
Who Can Benefit From Cupping?
Cupping is a gentle, non-invasive, and relaxing form of treatment. There are many conditions where patients may use cupping as part of their treatment. Cupping therapy is largely used to treat conditions that cause muscle pain, soreness, and stiffness. These conditions can include migraines, tension headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, stress, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel. It can also be beneficial in sports recovery.
At Lake Effect Chiropractic, we first analyze and examine your condition to evaluate if cupping is a suitable therapy for you. Cupping is generally safe, but you may experience minor side effects during or immediately after the treatment.
The following side effects typically subside within a few days: You may experience red circular marks where the cups were placed. Rarely, people may experience some lightheadedness, nausea, or dizziness.
We encourage patients to eat a light meal and have good hydration before coming to their appointment in the Bay area. We love having the cups as an option to help you get back to living a pain-free life. All in all, the stimulation and improved blood flow may be why it helps such a wide range of conditions.
Reach out to our office to determine if cupping is right for you! Give us a call at (989) 686-6808.