While more studies are needed to assess the true effectiveness of cupping, the procedure has already been used to treat a wide variety of conditions — especially chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain.
When people are suffering from physical pain, inflammation is often the culprit. Cupping, in theory, improves blood circulation in that area by attracting immune cells to that location to ignite the recovery process and reduce inflammation.
Furthermore, cupping excites the cells located within the fascia that then communicate with all other systems within the body. By affecting the fascia, you incite a neurological response; this full-body ‘pull’ is key to healing.
Because the cups can also be applied to major acupressure points, the practice may be effective for digestive issues, skin issues, and other conditions commonly treated with acupressure.
Cupping can also be performed to complement acupuncture treatments, as well as incorporated into deep tissue, Swedish or hot stone massages.
Most medical experts agree that cupping is safe. Side effects tend to be limited to the pinch experienced during skin suction. Your skin may turn red as the blood vessels respond to the change in pressure.
Those red circles you’ve seen on the backs of Michael Phelps and other cupping enthusiasts are temporary. Any bruising or other marks usually go away within ten days.
The use of arnica-based products directly applied to the cupping site or taken orally help reduce any red circles. You may also experience some itching as suctioning may rupture mast cells, releasing histamine. Rarely, skin infections have been reported.
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