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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Promote Healing With Cupping

While acupuncture is certainly the focus of my practice and the reason most patients come through my door, it is actually only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the multitude of methods used in Chinese Medicine to promote healing. Another incredibly popular healing modality is called cupping therapy. Cupping recently had a moment in the spotlight when the US Swim Team displayed dark purple marks on their arms and shoulders as they achieved victory in Brazil last year. Michael Phelps, in particular, had deep purple marks all over his body, leading many to question if this was a secret to some of his success.

What is cupping therapy?
    Cupping therapy is the application of glass or plastic cups on the body. The cups are placed over large muscle groups. Suction is then applied to the cup and the cup is left in place for about five minutes. The suction can be applied in two ways. The traditional way is to use fire to create a vacuum inside the cup. The second way is to use a handheld pump to create the suction nec-essary. In my clinic, I opt for the handheld pump. I find it to be as effective as fire cupping and much safer!
What does cupping therapy do?
    Cupping therapy draws the muscle and fascia lightly into the cup. Think of it like a massage, but instead of pressing down into the muscle, you are drawing the muscle up. This allows for an increase in blood flow to the area. This helps to reduce inflammation, loosen adhesions, relax muscles, and increase recovery of tight or fatigued muscles. Cupping therapy is very versatile and can be customized to each patient’s needs, from deep tissue release to subtle lymphatic drainage.

Does cupping therapy leave marks?
    The negative pressure applied by the cups does leave marks on the skin. These marks range in color from a deep purple color to a barely noticeable red. Although these marks look painful, they are not and will fade on their own within a few days. Patients almost universally report an immediate relief in their pain and tension with the application of cups.
    Cupping can be used on its own to provide pain relief, but it is most effective when used in conjunction with acupuncture. I add it to many of my protocols for pain, and once a patient has tried it, they request it at almost every treatment; it feels that good.

How do I prepare for cupping?
    Before an acupuncture or cupping session, make sure to hydrate well. Avoid strenuous activity for four hours after cupping. Finally, the very young, elderly, or those with bleeding or clotting disorders should refrain from cupping. For those of you with unresolved pain, persistent muscle pain, or tightness, think about giving this ancient healing modality a try!

    Michelle Pawley is a board-certified acupuncturist with a graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from The Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Her office is located at 1617 E. Oakland Avenue, Bloomington. For more information or to set up a consultation, call her at 309-445-1502, or visit her online at bnacupuncture.com. 


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