© OLD SAGE HANDS

What is Cupping?

In Body Fantastic on September 16, 2018 at 2:04 pm

A Cup Above

By now, most people have heard about acupuncture. If you haven’t, it’s an alternative treatment practised in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), whereby thin needles (more like very small pins) are inserted into the body at specific meridians of the body to treat various conditions. For those of you with needle phobia, these are not the traditional needles they use at the doctor’s office to take your blood. For many physiotherapists and people who treat sports injuries, acupuncture has become somewhat mainstream as it has been known to help ease arthritis as well as joint pain.

A few decades ago, I injured my lower back in a slip-and-fall accident, and every now and again my back decides to seize up. While normal rest and some exercises helped my back, it was the debilitating pain of migraines that finally drove me to discover acupuncture. If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know what I’m talking about. Fortunately, many family members recommended a physiotherapist who I was more than happy to meet, and over the years she has relieved my back pain and aging body aches with a combination of acupuncture and physio. Since her office is on the other side of town, when a local TCM clinic opened within walking distance from my home and a colleague highly recommended one of the doctors, I decided to give it a try. Once there, I discovered their TCM acupuncture methods were more effective than the physio.

Fast forward, a year later and my back and neck were clenched – I need acupuncture badly. My TCM doctor assessed the situation as I laid face down and agreed. “I think you need cupping today to loosen your tight muscles…” she says. I’d heard of the practice but had never had the procedure done before – since I’m already in pain I think, how bad can it be? “OK…” I say.

No Pain, No Gain

Within a few moments, I hear the clinking of glass containers on a cart rattle in. The flick of a lighter is followed by a puff of incense-scented smoke and suddenly I feel a cold circle of suction on my back. As I endure the first few cups with only mild discomfort,   I think to myself, “This isn’t so bad.” But as she gets to my lower back and attaches the next two cups, I gasp out loud to which she responds, “if you can manage the pain, it is better if you try and hang on…”

FullSizeRenderWincing, my mind now conjures visions of booster cables pinching off nerve endings. “Remember why you went in the first place,” I try and tell myself. If you’ve endured crushing migraine or screaming lower back pain, then you can easily breathe through a few moments of this stinging. Memories of childbirth drift back into my thoughts although this time, it feels like I’ve got 20 pounds of glass pressing down on my back.

Mercifully, the time passes quickly. As the suction cups are removed they release a whoosh of air, and I simultaneously experience a sign of relief! That night, I fall into a deep sleep and am drenched in sweat when I awake feeling light and nimble, able-bodied and healed! And those angry red lesions that cover my back and worry my family gradually subside over the next few days.

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