Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why the Olympics loved Cupping

What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

Cupping had its very own Olympic moment in Rio this year as many athletes, especially the swimmers, had what appeared to be circular bruises on their backs, shoulders, and sometimes elsewhere on their bodies.  “That’s been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy,” said American gymnast Alexander Naddour.   “It’s been better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”  Although there's been a ton of hype around this modality, we want to make sure our patients know the real truth about cupping including its pros and cons.

What is cupping and how does it work?
Cupping is one of the oldest forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating back to the 4th century. In a typical cupping session, either heat or air is used to create a suction in special cups that are placed on the body.   The vacuum that’s created pulls the skin and blood vessels in toward the cup, which is why they leave marks on the skin that can last several days.

The vacuum action created by the cups pulls blood to certain areas and helps improve circulation, loosening up muscles and joints, decreasing pain and breaking up obstructions.  It can have anti-inflammatory effects as well as aid detoxification.

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of oil to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which allows them to move the cups up and down on particular acupoints or meridians.

What are the benefits of cupping?  What does it treat?
The main benefits are encouraging the inflammatory response of the body and speeding up muscular and soft tissue recovery after injury and strain.  It's most often used for muscular pain in the back and shoulders and for respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma.  

Will it work for me?
If you are interested in adding cupping to your treatment or want to know if its appropriate for your condition, please schedule a private acupuncture session or contact us at tamacupuncture@gmail.com.  Those who bleed easily, have inflamed skin, or are pregnant should not use cupping.  It also may not be appropriate for certain types of pain such as a stiff neck, pinched nerve or chronic low back pain.  Your practitioner will be able to determine your best course of treatment.

To cupping, 

Chalita and Amie