Cupping therapy recently got a boost in a November 12th article in the Wall Street Journal. It quoted a South Korean study that showed that cupping helped to decrease pain and relax tense muscles. Actors like Gwenyth Paltrow have used it to manage pain and muscular tension. Others use it to help with arthritis and boost the immune system. Cupping is most frequently associated with Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, although physical therapists and massage therapists will utilize this healing tool as well.
Cupping is one of several modalities used in Chinese Medicine. Glass globes that are 2”-4” wide are put on the skin, often but not exclusively, in the upper back area, and suction is applied. The suction pulls the skin and some muscle into the cup and the cup is left in a static position. The therapist will often use “sliding” cups in a specific area if the goal is to release and open the fascia or muscle area on the back. Patients quickly feel the muscles relax and don’t seem to mind that the cups will sometimes leave a small bruise on the skin for a few days after treatment.
There are many reasons to use cupping therapy as part of your acupuncture treatment, and the winter months are the perfect time to integrate it into your session. Not only is December ripe with holiday stress that will leave your neck and shoulders feeling tense and painful, but December is also prime flu season. In Chinese Medicine theory, we say that the immune system is boosted by supporting the “lung qi,” or the energy of the lung. Applying cups to the lungs on the back will help to activate the “defense qi” of the lung and ward off illness. Utilizing cupping therapy in the winter months will not only give your body an immune boost, but your neck and shoulders will thank you.