Going for the gold and the purple. Cupping hits the big time in the Olympics.

It’s all over the news…Olympians like Michael Phelps are showing off their purple cupping marks to the public! Everyone is abuzz with questions and concerns about this (ahem) “NEW” technique.

New? How about 2,000 years old “new”?

Chinese Medicine has been cupping people for thousands of years. Most of the articles I’ve read are quoting the few (very few) scientific studies that have been published about the efficacy of cupping. Most say that we don’t really know what the benefits are.

I can tell you, in the short 15 plus years I’ve been using cupping with my clients, cupping works. It not only works to help with your pain tomorrow or the next day, but I have numerous clients who have had their long-term chronic pain completely disappear after just a few sessions.

One such woman had such debilitating hip pain, she could not run, walk long distance, or even ride a bike. After 4 sessions of cupping, she was completely pain free and able to do everything she wanted to do. Now, five years later, she continues to be pain free. I routinely use cupping in my clinic and find that it eases most low-back, hip, and shoulder pain.

So the question on all of our minds is: How does it actually work?

To understand cupping, you need to understand the concept of “wind” or resistance in Chinese Medicine. Wind is a metaphor for how we protect, clench, and hold tension in our bodies (in the way we tense our bodies when the wind blows). When your muscles and tendons are holding tension and resistance, causing pain, then Chinese Medicine practitioners often use Gua Sha (a scraping technique on the surface of the skin) to release that “Wind” and relieve the pain. However, when that same resistance goes very deep into the joints, Chinese Medicine practitioners use cupping. This video shows you a time lapse cupping session.

Cups are essentially suction cups. They slowly draw out that wind/resistance energy stuck in the joints or deeper under the fascia. Wherever there is wind in the body, there is lack of qi and blood flow, which often is the cause of pain. So as those suction cups draw up the stuck blood and qi to the surface, the pain is released. In addition, any toxins that are stored in the joints, also flush out through the surface, which promotes long term healing.

It’s wonderful that the Olympians are using cupping. But I wonder why they’re not also doing Gua Sha? Doing Cupping alone makes no sense to me.

Every athlete would benefit from using the winning combo of both Cupping and Gua Sha.

Want to learn more about Gua Sha? Check out our on-line class here.

Gua Sha for the muscles and tendons (tendonitis, pulled muscles, etc.) and Cupping for the ligaments that attach to the joints as well as chronic, deep pain.

Even if you are not an olympic athlete, maybe a weekend warrior, you can still win big with Cupping and Gua Sha. You might not look as cool as Michael Phelps, but you will be pain free!

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