After suffering terribly from neck and shoulder pain from being in a road traffic accident, my physiotherapist suggested that cupping may help my tight muscles to relax, as well as speeding up my recovery so I tried it for the very first time. Seeing as I’ve had lots of questions since asking about my experience I thought that I’d share my results here.
Depending on where your tight muscles are located there are various shaped cups to fit the different areas of the body. My physiotherapist explained that there are various methods for cupping, some include using fire and cutting the skin to draw out toxins, but I asked for the least invasive method with the lightest amount of pressure possible.
The suction and negative pressure created by cupping works to loosen tight muscles, encourage blood flow to the area and sedate the nervous system which can also treat high blood pressure effectively.
Cupping is most commonly used to relieve back and neck pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism and even cellulite – however for as many people who sing it’s praises there are just as many who try to disprove it’s benefits. It’s very much down to the individual, the symptoms that are being treated, processes used and the quality of results which will vary from person to person. My results on the lightest suction to my shoulders may very well be the opposite of those who have a strong suction with fire to their lower back for example.
Prior to cupping my physiotherapist applied a lotion to my skin and gave me an upper body massage to warm up my muscles before placing a cup on either shoulder as I lay on my front face down. I found the process very relaxing and uplifting, although I had tenderness to my muscles and flinched when pressure was applied from my injuries several weeks ago.
Having the lightest suction applied, the valve on the cup was squeezed a handful of times as my skin was suctioned inside and raised up into a dark red lump which is rather peculiar to see. The cupping didn’t hurt at all as the suction was so mild, it felt more like a fish suckling or placing a weak hoover over my clothes. The cups can be dragged around and repositioned whilst suction is in place as the muscle is targeted and blood flow increased to a specific area, it was as if somebody had picked up my tender muscle and held it in their hand before letting it go and feeling refreshed and more flexible.
Cupping immediately leaves round purple marks on the skin which look like circular bruises and begin to fade after several days, however they may be visible for up to two or three weeks. This process is recommended for anyone experiencing acute and chronic pain which can be in the form of headaches, the common cold, a cough, menstruation, stress and even anxiety. Some methods even promote weightloss and body toning by stimulating acu-points which run along the lymphatic lines, however my treatment was to release the tension from injured muscles.
Each treatment can take between 15-60 minutes which typically begins with a massage to the muscles that are being treated followed by the application of the cups, 15-20 minutes of the cups being stationary on the skin, removal of the cups and then another short massage to finish.
This treatment also provides beneficial effects to psychological wellbeing by reducing anger, hostility, depression and anxiety, as well as dry cupping on the scalp helping to promote blood circulation and stimulate hair follicles for hair regrowth and maintenance.
This technique breaks up scar tissue and adhesions on muscles and connective tissues to speed up healing and recovery and it has certainly made a noticeable difference to my stiff neck and shoulders after just one treatment. I’ve notice my movement is much more fluid, I feel less tense and I’m no longer having tightness and pulling sensations when I perform everyday tasks which is helping me to sleep better, continue with routine and proceed up my recovery; a very worthwhile treatment that I would highly recommend to all – and it isn’t half as scary as it looks!