Acupuncture is perhaps the best-known part of Chinese Medicine, but hardly all of it.
What is cupping?
Cupping is an ancient, cross-cultural technique (common throughout Asia and Eastern Europe) which draws cell waste, the by-products of fatigue, exercise, and injury ('toxins' for short) out of deep tissues up to the surface of the skin. Pain usually comes from blockage of some sort, and where there is blockage, these toxins can't get out.
A vacuum is induced in glass or plastic cups, which are placed on the skin.
There, it's easy for the superficial blood supply to flush these toxins away.
Where there is blockage, the skin will discolor. The more blockage, the more color; some practitioners who base their treatments around cupping 'chase the color,' adding additional cups as long as there's discoloration, to treat every last bit of tension. “You will always have relief, if you have color,” as one of my teachers said.
Cupping is diagnostic (not just therapeutic) in three ways: it tells where the problem is, how serious the level of tension is, and what it's based on (with bone or nerve issues, there is no discoloration.)
How long does the discoloration last?
Usually a day or two, though if the tension levels were very bad, it may be discolored up to a week or ten days.
Important note – You, the patient, are in control of how 'hard' the cupping is done (think of it like a massage.) One of the reasons we use the manual 'air gun' vs the classic/showy 'fire cupping' is to precisely control the level of suction in the cup. This also controls how dark the discoloration is.
What does the area feel like after cupping?
Almost always, immediate relief! Cupping is a very powerful treatment, often more powerful than acupuncture, especially when treating blockage.
Though the muscles feel better, the skin itself is often sensitive, somewhat like a mild sunburn. Care must be taken when stepping into a hot shower right after a cupping treatment, for example. For the most part, though, even with deep discoloration, there is no local sensation after the first 24 hours.
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