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What is Cupping? Gua Sha? Hunh?

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

Cupping is like a reverse massage. Instead of pushing down on your muscle tissue, an acupuncturist creates a vacuum in a "cup," usually glass or silicone, that pulls your tissue up. This can be left in a single location or moved along the affected area. It helps create space between the tissue layers, improve circulation locally, and some people really like the way it feels.

Depending upon who you are and what your body is experiencing, cupping can leave some marks that fade like a bruise but otherwise side effects are very minimal. Your skin should return to normal within 10 days. Michael Phelps made cupping very popular when he was seen swimming with cupping marks on his shoulders at the 2016 Olympics.


Cupping is a good therapy to loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping can be used to help relieve pain in the back and neck, reduce muscle stiffness, and help to manage anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite.


Another type of therapy is called Gua Sha. It is practiced in many cultures and uses a smooth, flat edged tool to scrape across the surface of the affected area. Some people use coins or spoons for this purpose and it is then called "coining" or "spooning." Gua sha is intended to address stagnant energy, called chi, in the body that can be responsible for inflammation.


Since Gua sha works to reduce inflammation, it’s often used to treat ailments that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as those that cause muscle and joint pain.


It can cause micro-bleeding under the skin known as petichiae that heal similar to a bruise would. It is an excellent way to break up scar tissue, particularly for injuries that have healed in less-than-ideal ways.


Both of these, as well as "Chinese Massage" or "Tui Na" are manual therapies that acupuncturists often use in conjunction with insertion of needles acu-points.


If you're interested in learning more about these therapies and how they may help you, or are looking to find an acupuncturist near your or arrange for cupping therapy near you, give me a call today and let's talk about the best custom plan for you!



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