Cupping therapy (medically termed as myofascial decompression) has become a hot topic in recent years with images of Hollywood celebrities, models, and famous athletes making the headlines using cupping for pain management and muscle treatment. But, in reality, it is an ancient eastern practice that is believed to have originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. Ebers Papyrus – one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world also mentions the use of cupping – which indicates that ancient Egyptians may have been using this practice as early as 1,550 BC. Cupping therapy remained a popular practice in both Eastern and Western cultures ever since Hippocrates touted it as the “be-all, end-all” mystical therapy.
What Is Cupping?
Cupping is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that involves placing small inverted cups (made of glass, fiber, or plastic) onto muscles of the body. A vacuum is created inside these cups by using small suction pumps or by burning cotton or any other flammable material. As a result of this suction, the underlying soft tissues are raised into the cup. The purpose of treatment is to increase circulation and stretch the muscles. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, lack of movement of fluids (energy) is considered to be the cause of pain and other health imbalances.
In plain and simple terms, cupping therapy can be described as the inverse of massage therapy. In massage, the pressure is applied to the muscles, but in cupping therapy pressure is applied to pull the skin (muscles and tissues) upward.
What Can It Treat
Cupping draws on the basic principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that says, “Stagnation equals pain” and if you get rid of the stagnation, you get rid of the pain”.
As per this traditional Chinese medical maxim, stagnation (blockage or congestion) of Qi (vital energy – which may be blood or other bodily fluids is the prime source of pain, and Cupping helps to remove this stagnation, thereby removing the pain.
Depending on the issue, cupping therapy can be used as a standalone treatment or may be combined with other forms of alternative treatment such as dry needling and massage to achieve the desired results. It is often used as a complementary therapy for the following conditions:
- muscle soreness, pain, and spasms
- back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain
- headache or migraine
- anxiety disorders
- stress related issues
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Remedial Massage Melbourne