Cupping got a lot of attention during the summer Olympics when swimmer Michael Phelps was spotted with some odd looking round bruises on his shoulders and upper back. Needless to say, we were fielding questions left and right about what cupping is, what we use it for, whether it's painful, and if it actually works.
What is cupping?
Cupping is what we call a decompression myofascial release technique. What all those fancy words really mean is that it creates space in the tissue through the use of suction and helps to separate layers of the tissue to create better blood flow and relieve pain.
What is it used for?
Mostly muscle pain is the short answer - particularly of the back and shoulders. Traditionally it has also been used to help prevent colds - which we now know is because it seems to stimulate an immune response. We have used it for this purpose on ourselves and many patients with great success.
Does it hurt?
It doesn't have to! Cupping, when performed by a trained and experienced practitioner, does not have to be uncomfortable to be effective. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either too aggressive or inexperienced to know the difference. In fact, cupping when done well is as relaxing and feels as a good as a great massage especially when we finish the session with a nice sliding technique.
How well does it work?
It works very well. We recommend combining it with acupuncture (see the cool photo on the right!) for more lasting effects, but even on its own it is a great therapy to incorporate into your pain relief or pain prevention routine.
If you're interested in experiencing it yourself, give us a call. We offer stand alone cupping sessions for only $40 at both locations!