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What Is Cupping and Can It Help Me?

The average American first became aware of the art of cupping in 2016 during the Summer Olympics. This is when Michael Phelps, a highly decorated Olympic swimmer with over 20 gold medals, displayed the tell-tale round bruises created by cupping therapy at a competition. 

But the fact is that cupping is certainly not a new practice, having been practiced in China and Egypt as early as 1550 BC. For thousands of years, cupping has been used by medical communities to treat pneumonia and bronchitis. Today, the technique has evolved to include treatment of sprains, injuries, and inflammation. 

So, how exactly is cupping performed and how does it influence healing? Round cups designed specifically for the treatment sessions are placed on the skin. The cups are manually pumped by the medical specialist to a measured degree based on skin health and comorbidities. This pumping is done in order to make a suction effect on the skin. They are left in place for a few minutes while the patient relaxes. 

Research supports several benefits of cupping. One is to encourage blood flow to the affected areas. Increased blood flow means increased circulation which can be effective in promoting healing and even bringing much needed pain relief to the patient. Increased circulation also means quicker nourishment to local nerves, in turn improving pain-gating. Further, nerve repolarization is accelerated, and chronic low threshold pain transmissions can be alleviated. 

Another function of cupping is its influence on the local lymphatic system. The function of the lymph system is critical to a patient’s health... This amazing system primarily serves as the “sewage” system of your body, helping clear waste products and removing toxins. An efficient lymph system will deliver waste to your bloodstream, then to organs equipped for filtration such as the kidneys and liver. <