Do you suffer from back pain and headaches caused by muscle tension? When the body undergoes stress, whether it’s from rigorous activity or a frenetic week at work, our muscles bind up in ‘knots’ and these tight points in our bodies can cause pain. A traditional method to treat sore muscles is massage, but lately, an even older remedy is coming back in vogue.
Cupping is an ancient alternative treatment where you place heated cups on the skin. As the air cools it forms a vacuum inside the cup and creates suction which pulls up the skin. This pulling relieves tension in the underlying muscles. It is also believed to bring impurities in the body closer to the surface so that improved blood circulation can carry them out of your system.
Although cupping is attributed to the Chinese Taoist Ge Hong (281 – 341 A.D.), evidence exists that practitioners used the technique in the Middle East even earlier. Ebers Papyrus is one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, dating back to 1 550 B.C. . This book describes the Egyptians of the time using cupping as a therapy to treat a variety of disorders.
Cupping Can Relieve Pain and Common Ailments
In 2015, an article in the Journal of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine said that you could use cupping for pain management and to treat the symptoms of acne, facial paralysis, herpes zoster, and cervical spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis is better known as age-related wear and tear of the spinal discs in your neck, and it is commonplace among older people.
Cupping is useful for relieving tension and pain in overworked muscles and improving your range of motion. When you use cupping in conjunction with conventional medicine, it can help you to recover from an injury sooner and cut back the need for anti-inflammatories. Most people who try cupping say that their musculoskeletal pain reduces immediately, and the benefits of cupping continue even after the treatment ends.
Improved blood circulation from cupping means that your organs can also benefit from the treatment, alleviating the symptoms of deep-seated conditions. In Chinese medicine, cupping is used to treat congestion of the lungs and digestive disorders.
It is widely believed that cupping draws toxins out of the blood and that it is beneficial to people who suffer from chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
You Can Experience the Benefits at Home
Athletes go to a therapist for cupping, but you can safely try it at home. In fact, long before the stars jumped on the bandwagon, our grandparents were using cupping as a home remedy.
You will need a few simple tools and a basic understanding of the technique to use cupping as an affordable alternative treatment so you can lessen the need for pain medication and live a healthier life.
What Tools Do You Need?
Cupping is an inexpensive treatment; as the name suggests, you will only need a few cups, and you can use them repeatedly. You can use cups made from a variety of materials such as glass, earthenware, bamboo, or silicone but they must have a smooth rim to make sure that they can create suction, and it’s preferable to use cups that are easy to sterilize.
Cups are usually bell-shaped or round. There is no set number of cups for a cupping treatment; you can use any amount from one up, but three to seven cups are common, and you can use as many as you need for the area you want to nurse. When you do cupping for the first time, it is best to start with only a few cups and check your body’s reaction.
How Does a Cupping Treatment Work?
Traditionally, you would light combustible material in the cup to heat the air, then quickly invert the cup over the treatment area and allow the cooling air inside to create a vacuum. These days, you can buy a glass or silicone cupping set with a suction device attached. If you use a commercial cupping set, you simply place the cup where you want to attach it and draw the air out of the cup.Whether you use heated air or a pump to attach the cups, the suction draws your skin and the underlying fascia up into the cup, forming a bulge. Common areas to attach the cups include the back, neck, and abdomen.
Once the cups have attached to your skin, you can leave them in place for three to fifteen minutes, or gently move them over your body, taking care not to disrupt the suction seal. The force from the vacuum in the cups is not painful.When your body becomes used to the initial sensation of pressure, you will feel the tension in your muscles releasing as the tissue is lifted and loosened up by the suction in the cup. When you are ready to remove them, simply slip a finger under the rim of the cup to release the vacuum.
You can repeat the cupping treatment as often as you like, but for best results, practitioners recommend that you keep to a routine and do it once a week.
What are the Side Effects of Cupping?
Directly after you remove the cups, there will be telltale red, discolored circles on your skin. They will mostly disappear within a few hours, but bruises that last up to ten days are not uncommon. Other side effects can include skin infection, mild irritation of the treatment area, and burns from overheated cups.
To avoid a skin complaint, always sterilize your cups before using them. If you are using the heat method, check the temperature before you apply the cups to your skin.
You should never apply cups to inflamed skin, areas with sunburn, or open wounds. Cupping is not recommended for people who have hemophilia or take blood thinning medication.
Health practitioners and researchers are rediscovering the benefits of traditional treatments all the time. As a non-invasive alternative treatment, cupping is safe to try at home for pain relief, to help your muscles to relax, and to treat a variety of ailments to help you live a healthier life.
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