As an avid believer in Chinese medicine to help cure the body of disease and ailment, I asked my friend Sam, editor and executive producer of LeafTV, to dive a little deeper and answer some questions you may have about this funky looking treatment. (If you've ever seen anyone who looks like they just got made out with by a giant octopus, that is what I'm referring to.)
"Before I moved to LA (5 years ago), I had never heard of cupping. Fast forward to a few months in, I found it was totally normal—even frequent—to see someone in front of me during yoga moving around with painful-looking, red and purple marks on their back. I always thought it was some kind of weird condition.
As my life, namely my "yoga social life" grew in LA, I found myself more and more interested in Chinese medicine and it's healing avenues such as acupuncture and cupping.
Because I started to read about why people get cupping done and the major benefits it offers such as muscle relief, circulation and detoxification, and the fact that I was constantly sore from practicing so much yoga, I was ready to take on "cupping" and see if it worked for me.
And I truly LOVE it.
I still had questions and figured you would too, so I consulted with one of Elysia's clinicians, Janel Gehrke, LAc, MTOM, to find out more about cupping, the what's, why's and how's. Take a look:
What are the major benefits of cupping and how to athletes and non-athletes benefits differ, if at all?
Athletes and Non-athletes can benefit from cupping equally, the main difference is that athletes tend to take better care of themselves!!
Think of someone who sits at a computer all day. They will likely hold a significant amount of tension in their neck, shoulders, and upper back. Same scenario with parents who are lifting and carrying small (or large) children everyday. These seemingly harmless tasks cause repetitive strain on muscles which can lead to what we call in Traditional Medicine "stagnation," but ultimately this results in pain. When muscle fibers become tense and rigid, the blood flow will decrease. If the same tasks that put the stress on those muscles continues, the pattern will remain and could worsen. One of the purposes of cupping is to activate the immune system and increase blood flow to a specific area. This fresh blood supply can nourish the tense and starved muscles and remind them what it feels like to be in a relaxed state.
What exactly is happening when the cups are sitting on your back (or wherever they are placed)?
We chose very specific locations to apply the cups depending on what we are treating. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen within the cup is what draws a fresh blood supply to the area being treated.
Does it hurt?!
In my personal experience it does not hurt at all, in fact, it feels amazing. Like bringing life back into parts of my neck/shoulders/back/ that I didn't even know were tense.
I often compare the experience to having a deep tissue massage because most people can relate to this experience. If we are working on an area that is particularly tight, you may feel more sensation, but usually it offers such relief that it's worth it. I like to prepare my patients for the after effects as well, much like any deep muscle work, they may experience some sensitivity in the area that was worked on (this does not last long, usually no more than the day), they may also feel groggy or a little headachy. This means the body is processing an abundance of toxic build up and we mobilized it with the session. In an effort to minimize any potential negative sensations, it's really important to drink a lot of water after the session and avoid strenuous activity if possible. It is also advisable to avoid consuming alcohol, sugar, dairy, and any other deep fried or processed foods. This allows your body to function optimally and process the toxins at a more efficient rate."
To read more Qs & As, see the rest of the article here. Thanks Sam!
all photos by me.