The Benefits of Myofascial Cupping
The 2016 Olympics brought Myofascial cupping, often simply referred to as “cupping”, to the world’s attention, with several athletes displaying big circular bruise-like marks on their backs and shoulders.
It’s not new, though
Cupping dates back to around 300AD, according to Chinese medical history and it may also have been popular in Ancient Egypt and the Middle East. It’s still used a lot in tradition Chinese medicine (TCM) and even in hospitals. Glass suction cups of different sizes are placed upon the skin where they draw up blood to the surface, which is what creates the bruising effect.
What does it actually do?
At a basic level, cupping improves the blood flow to the cupped areas and this can speed up healing and ease muscle soreness. Used after strenuous physical exercise, cupping can help to reduce the severity of post-exercise and delayed onset muscle soreness, allowing athletes to train harder for longer.
It can reduce pain
Several studies into acupuncture and cupping have shown that a combination of the therapies yielded better outcomes than acupuncture alone. Some subjects reported better pain relief from cupping than from pain killers.
It can provide relief from chronic ailments
Cupping has also been shown to reduce the symptoms in conditions like chronic neck and shoulder pain, as well as reducing the severity of coughs and painful breathing.
There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that cupping can help in cases of severe body acne, probably due to the increased blood flow bringing nutrients and white blood cells to the affected areas.
It can boost the immune system
Some research has backed up the belief that cupping improves the immune system as it has found that the localised inflammation caused by the vacuum sucking at the skin causes cytokine production. Cytokines are important co-ordinating immune cells that ‘tell’ the immune system what to do.
It can make you feel good
Many people feel happy after a cupping session as it’s believed to release endorphins as well as to promote healing. Some practitioners oil the skin before applying the cups so they can be moved around in a form of massage.
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