If you tuned into the Rio Olympics, or have been an observer of pop culture in recent months, you may have seen images of Michael Phelps and Justin Bieber both sporting odd purple bruises on their bodies.
While some people may have been concerned that the men had gotten involved in some sort of strange self-abuse, the round bruises are actually the result of a healing technique known as cupping.
Cupping involves heating up small glass cups, placing them onto the skin, then pulling them away from the body to help loosen and relax muscles by promoting blood flow.
Many massage therapists and other alternative health practitioners are offering the service as part of their practice as it achieves a similar result. Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull the skin, tissue, and muscles upward.
Here are eight reasons you should consider giving cupping a try!
1. Promotes relaxation
In today’s fast-paced society, we need to take time for relaxation. If we don’t take the time to decompress and relax, the constant stress can lead to a host of health conditions, including mental issues like anxiety and depression.
Similar to receiving a deep tissue massage which offers wonderful, relaxing relief, cupping is soothing as it helps to lift the pressure from tense muscles. The act of simply lying still and allowing a practitioner to apply the therapy has positive effects on well-being and believed to factor into what makes cupping so effective.
Once the cups are applied and suctioned to the skin, they’re left for 20 minutes, thus allowing for the patient to sit in a calm, relaxed environment promoting relaxation.
2. Inducing inflammation to heal injuries faster
Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism, which helps kick things into action to help heal illness and injury. If you suffer a muscle injury, your first inclination is likely to rush to get ice, but this actually is counterproductive to the body’s natural healing process. If you allow for inflammation in the muscle, it helps to flood the injured muscle with blood, along with nutrients, platelets, white blood cells and fibroblasts to aid in healing. Cupping therapy works much the same way by drawing blood to the affected area so that new blood vessels can be created. It helps to heal knots and adhesions, which is why so many athletes have been turning to this therapy. It helps their body to recover faster from intense workout sessions.
3. Pain relief
Pain relief is one of the main reasons people use cupping. An analysis of multiple clinical trials published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that compared to traditional treatments, cupping offered positive effects for relieving cancer pain compared to analgesics and anti-cancer drugs.
Cupping targets soft tissue with pressure applied to pain points and areas of swelling. This helps to increase blood flow and give the tissues important nutrients and oxygen. It’s believed to help release tissues deep within the body, relax tense muscles and ease stiffness that’s often associated with neck and back pain, migraines and rheumatism. Practitioners use pressure along with heat and suctioning (and sometimes needles), near the site of the injury. This allows energy to flow along the meridians, or channels, which pass through the injury.
4. Relieve cold, cough and allergy symptoms
Cupping can help to stimulate the lungs (as well as other vital organs) to help clear out phlegm. Excess phlegm in the lungs triggers coughing to help bring it out of the body. The practice of cupping can help speed the process to relieve one of nasty cold, cough and allergy symptoms. It also helps boost immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body.
5. Improve skin conditions
Cupping has been used to help with a host of skin conditions, including eliminating acne and eczema, reducing skin inflammation, lessening herpes breakouts and even diminishing cellulite. In the case of eczema, suction is applied on points on the body, such as the top end of the spinal cord, below the knee, or above the ankle. It’s used to treat acne by cupping the affected area and even nicking the skin in order to remove the breakout.
As part of a cellulite treatment, cupping is done after the oil is applied to the skin. The cups are then suctioned and moved around to bring heat to the area, along with the skin-healing ingredients of the oil that has been applied.
An analysis of studies published in PLOS One found that cupping may be equally or even more effective for treating acne as compared to antibiotics. The studies showed that the cure rate of cupping for improving acne was better than the use of prescription medications like tetracycline.
Cupping therapy is based on the belief that disease results when the positive energy that flows through the meridians of the body is blocked. Removing that congestion than induces the body to heal itself. Cupping draws blood to the affected area, energizing skin tissues. That blood flow brings oxygen and nutrients, while the lymphatic system produces antibodies that are needed for healing. The blood flow also works to detoxify, as stated earlier, removing pathogens that cause skin conditions.
Poor circulation can lead to the buildup of toxins inside of the body’s tissues. This buildup can be the root cause of many different health conditions. Cupping helps to improve stagnation, while the blood rushing to the area that’s being treated carries away toxins. Along with those toxins, it helps to clear dead cells and other debris. All of these elements are then expelled naturally. That’s why drinking lots of water after a cupping session is a good idea for flushing away those impurities and promoting better health.
7. Relieving digestive disorders
Cupping is also becoming a popular practice for relieving symptoms of digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. It’s believed to work partly because of the stress-relieving effects of cupping, which has been strongly linked to healthier digestion.
Stress, tension, and anxiety are all communicated to organs throughout the body, including digestive processes. When that happens, things start to get congested, and as a result, you feel bloated and constipated. Cupping releases the stagnation, helping to get things moving along, and relaxing you so that systems function normally again.
The therapy has been found to be effective for water retention, diarrhea, stomach cramps, gastritis, loss of appetite and a host of gastrointestinal diseases.
Cupping has been found to offer anti-aging effects like fighting wrinkles. It brings more nutrients to the skin, which helps give it a glowing, younger appearance. In addition, products that are used after the treatment, such as lotions, essential oils and such, are absorbed better, and therefore, more effective.
The lifting motion that comes with suctioning helps to reduce visible fine lines and wrinkles. It can even lessen the appearance of scars that are the result of injury or acne. The connecting tissues underneath the facial skin are stimulated, helping to reduce smile and laugh lines, and, if you’re suffering from puffiness, it can help drain fluid in the lymph glands that result in reduced edema.
The massaging movements alone are known to help relax tense facial muscles, which results in younger, and even softer looking skin. Whether your skin is dry or oily, cupping can offer these outstanding aesthetic benefits. And, it’s all natural – no knives or lasers necessary.
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