InTruBeauty: Wellness Series: My Adventures in Cupping



                                                                                                               

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wellness Series: My Adventures in Cupping


Background/Why I'm doing this:
Whenever I have a problem, I seek out all possible reasonable solutions. Some of those problems include allergies, migraines and chronic back and neck pain due to stress and tension. My family has always first looked to natural remedies and I managed the symptoms the best that I could. When it got to a point where it was just too much to take and was affecting my daily well-being, I sought out solutions. One of the main things that I did was to go and get a massage whenever the pain got tear worthy. With the help of my massage therapist, a source of my issues was clear: Stress! 
The stress of my job working with at risk children and children in need along with Guardian ad Litem work for adults with disabilities and generally working with those whose lives are at a low just isn't going to go away. I believe I was meant to do this work for a reason. And so since the source of stress isn't going to go away, I need to find ways to deal with the consequences. Basically I carry stress in my neck and shoulders and the muscles get so tight that blood flow is restricted and so there is a build up of lactic acid which leads to migraines and sinus pain. It was through traditional massage that the reason for my pain was clear and that was the first step in being able to treat it effectively. 

This post is based on my own experience and results and in no way constitutes medical advice. Always consult your medical professional before undertaking any new treatments.

What I've tried:
  • chiropractors
  • massage therapy for pain relief
  • 8 years+ of allergy shots, Rx and over the counter allergy pills and steroid shots
  • Neti pot
  • acupuncture
  • traditional doctor who prescribed me medication with horrible side effects (1/2 my body being numb for hours)
  • exercise
  • foam roller
  • ibuprofen to reduce swelling
  • coffee & hot showers for migraines
  • icing my neck
  • aromatherapy with lavender and an all natural muscle rub
  • 3 day Kaeng Raeng detox, doing a regular Sonnes #7 detoxification
  • changing the way I eat to clean eating.
What worked?
All of these natural remedies have made a huge difference and given me back some quality of life. This is why when I read about the ancient Chinese method of cupping in Prevention magazine, I wanted to try it immediately. It had the same goal that I did: to improve blood flow and circulation in order to rid my body of toxins and break up build of of toxins, thus relieving pain and pressure. I was THRILLED to find a practitioner in my area who did cupping and not so patiently waited nearly a month and a 1/2 to get in. 


What is cupping?
  • Ancient Chinese therapy
  • When applied to the skin, suction is created which draws an increase in blood and qi (vital energy) to an area of imbalance
  • Whereas a traditional massage uses compression, cupping uses suction
  • Draws toxins and disease out of the body and helps maintain good health 
  • Loosens and lifts connective tissues, breaks up and drains stagnation while incereasing blood & lymph flow to skin and muscles in ways not possible with compression
  • May be helpful for asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, fibromyalgia and neuralgia
  • There are many different forms including traditional fire glass, suction therapy in the form of bodywork, facial cupping, massage cupping. 
    • Suction therapy in form of bodywork is best for traumatic injuries, orthopedic conditions, deep tissue and sports massage, lymphatic drainage, abdominal massage, neurological dysfunctions, myofascial release, health maintenance and relaxation
    • Facial cupping can be good for sinus infections and inflammation because of the loosening and draining effects of the cups. This can also be a facial treatment which can help with lines, wrinkles and soften scar tissue.
    • Massage cupping creates negative pressure which can feel great. The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system which allows for a deep relaxation throughout the body
  • Some practitioners actually diagnose from the results they see from cupping, which are called markings. They appear like bruises but are not bruises and are not painful.
Source: Internal Cupping Therapy Association brochure
Baguanfa Rubber Cups
  • "Made of an improved composite formula of natural rubber. The marvelous benefits of these advanced cups
  • Can easily change shape – making for an amazing array of places these cups can be used on the body – elbows, knees, scapula, hands, feet, abdominals, shoulders, spine, etc., etc., etc.
  • Bony prominences are no longer off limits to moving cups. The flexibility of these cups make them the best choice in joint manipulations, Thai Massage, Watsu, PediCupping, Sports Massage and OrthopediCupping"
My markings
My experience:
  • It was not painful, but could be slightly uncomfortable at times especially during massage cupping when my therapist was working on a particularly tender and sensitive area, usually my shoulders or when a cup was suctioned on really tight
  • My cupping lasted about an hour and was a combination of the traditional fire glass cupping where a cotton ball with alcohol is lit on fire and placed inside a glass cup to get rid of the oxygen and then placed on my back. This is not hot but may be warm, it was not painful nor did I get burnt. My therapist would place them all over my back after meeting with me to discuss why I was there. Some stayed suctioned on longer than others. She then popped some on and off with more speed. 
  • My therapist also did a Russian method which included the placement of cups along my spine.
  • She also used massage cupping which was done with the rubber cups pictured above. This would be placed at my lower back and moved upwards over my shoulder and onto my arm. Some were left on my shoulder or arm area. This felt like a massage and was relaxing and calming, except when therapy was focused on a particularly sensitive area like my pectorals. 
  • Overall I felt relaxed and calm and really enjoyed the experience and will return
  • One session could be enough to help, or you may need 2 or 3. My therapist recommend dynamic cupping next time where I would do stretches while cupping. She indicated she couldn't get all the toxins out in one session for me which I fully believe.
My results:
  • My markings were visible after and are still visible the day after. These can last a few hours up to a couple weeks. I had darker markings on my right side than my left which wasn't too surprising since I carry everything on that shoulder and usually have one side that is more tense and tight than the other.
  • I followed instructions and turned off my air conditioner after and took a bath in comfortable temperature water with Epson salts to soak my back and drank tons of water. 
  • I had a lot of energy that night 
  • I slept great and woke up feeling motivated and refreshed
  • The next day I went on an hour walk which was one of the best walks I've ever taken. It felt like I had an engine behind me powering me through my walk. I maintained a very brisk pace and felt great while doing it. I felt like I reached a milestone in my exercise goals where I not only enjoyed it but felt amazing while doing it. 
  • I still have some soreness and stiffness and allergies (I'm allergic to grass, trees and weeds). I noticed towards the end of my walk I started getting a headache and once I got home and chugged some water, took a shower and an allergy pill, I was good to go. 
  • I'm looking forward to going back in a couple of months and really felt it worked for me. I feel a change in my energy levels and feel much more positive.
  •  I believe in alternative therapies and I'm so glad I've experienced cupping. I think it will be one more step towards my goal and will be crucial to my success.
Interested in cupping? Find a practitioner in your area here: http://www.cuppingtherapy.org/
This post is based on my own experience and results and in no way constitutes medical advice. Always consult your medical professional before undertaking any new treatments. 
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