What is Cupping anyway? How does it work?
Cupping is the use of suction or negative pressure to improve the circulation of blood and fluids in the body. Glass, bamboo, or gourd cups are held over a flame to burn off the oxygen creating a vacuum and then the cup is placed on the skin. The skin is gently drawn into the cup pulling on the local issue. Today cups are also made from plastic and silicone.
Cupping is thought to act mainly by increasing local blood circulation and relieving the painful muscle tension. You may have a red, purplish, black or even blue appearance left behind due to the local movement of stagnant blood. These marks are not considered bruises and are rarely painful.
The process of cupping improves microcirculation, promotes capillary endothelial cell repair, and accelerates granulation and angiogenesis. Granulation tissue is new connective tissue and tiny blood vessels that form on the surfaces of a wound during the healing process and angiogenesis, or neovascularization, literally means the creation of new blood vessels.
When the vacuum occurs inside the cups it causes separation of the different layers of tissue, which can cause micro trauma and tearing. The body responds to this micro trauma by releasing white blood cells, platelets, fibroblasts and other healing chemicals to promote tissue repair. This is sterile inflammation. The healing chemicals I mentioned above get released and stimulate healing. The inflammation is not chronic nor is it bad, it is step one in your healing.
While granulation, angiogenesis, and micro trauma occurs, the cupping is stretching tight fascia and muscles to relax, lubricate, and free the tissue from adhesions. It is because of this freeing and rebuilding of tissues and circulation that cupping can cause a lasting effect. As the new vessels form they will have the capability to feed the tissues with fresh nutrients and oxygen which is necessary for healing and repair as well which helps in normalizing the patient’s functional state and progressive muscle relaxation.
Who can benefit from cupping?
Physical trauma such as car accidents or falls, chronic patterns of holding tension in the muscles with stress or repetitive strain (sitting at a computer for hours and hours or holding your body in strange postures for extended periods of time during a work day), or structural abnormalities such as scoliosis all lead to impaired circulation large muscles groups, congestion of blood and inflammation, adhesions, restrictions, etc. As well visceral congestion such as sluggish digestion, respiratory inflammation or irritation, or liver congestion can all benefit from the superficial layers of the body being cupped.
As we age, especially after 40 years old, our body begins to break down. This includes loss of muscle, adhesions in fascia and decrease in blood flow. You can see this as your muscle tone decreases, we get stiffer and wrinkles start to appear in new places. As we move less and decrease our physical activity the blood supply to tissues decrease and the fascia gets knotted and scarred up further limiting movement and becoming a vicious cycle.
Putting cups over a region helps the body reverse some of these effects.
Finally, it feels really good, relaxing them muscles and mind at the same time!
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250-682-7289 | Dr. Andrea Hansen & Shawna Wafler