I was introduced to cupping four years ago while being treated for an auto collision injury. It is a traditional treatment, which uses the application of suction cups to the body. My chiropractor had just hired a massage therapist who was very interested in naturopathic medicine and holistic healing. With three children under the age of five, and having sustained other injuries as well, I was suffering from excruciating back pain and was eager to find something that provided immediate relief. It only took one treatment to get me hooked. I was on the prowl to find my own cup set, so my partner could help treat me at home.
Cupping is considered to be part of the study of acupuncture, but it can be used alone (no needles involved), or in conjunction to acupuncture treatments. The cups can be left in one spot, or you can have someone slide the cup(s) along your back. I use a combination of the two methods for optimum pain management.
There are many cultures that use some form of cupping in their folk medicine, and as a little girl I saw family members using cupping therapy for a variety of ailments such as pain or injury, respiratory issues, digestive problems, even skin care such as treating eczema and cellulite reduction. I use it to loosen the muscle knots in my back. The cupping therapy works by enabling circulation to injured sites. This speeds up healing by reducing swelling, and allowing toxins to be expelled.
Modern cup sets come with a simple pump. If you choose to leave the cups in place, the pump is removed and the cup sits on the surface of your skin for about five to twenty minutes. If you opt for the “sliding” method, lotion or massage oil can be applied prior to applying a light suction, and the cup(s) can be moved in any direction. Circular motions directly on problem areas work wonders for me.
A more traditional method uses Fire-Cupping. A vacuum is created by soaking a cotton ball in alcohol, lighting it, and placing it inside the cup for a few seconds. The fire sucks out all the oxygen in the cup, producing the suction. The cup is then placed on your skin, and treatment is the same as with using the modern cups. Fire-Cupping does not burn or feel hot on your body.
Cupping should not hurt, although it may leave a mark which should go away within a few hours to a week. Cupping can be extremely relaxing, and children do very well with it. My five-year old daughter absolutely loves being cupped before bedtime.
If you suffer from back pain or any of the other ailments listed, I highly encourage you to seek a professional acupuncturist, or massage technician who specializes in cupping therapy. For maximum results, I also recommend using white flower oil during the massage, or applying an analgesic patch (such as Salonpas) after the treatment.