The 2016 Summer Olympics may have come and gone, but not without leaving a lasting impression, or impressions, when we consider the round marks seen on Michael Phelps’ torso and he swam to victory. With all the talk about Michael Phelps and cupping, it seemed an opportune time to separate the fact from the media fiction.
Catherine Cusumano, Licensed Acupuncturist at Hygeia Integrated Health LLC in Yorktown Heights, explains, “Cupping is not only not painful, it's not gruesome. It's among the most gentle and effective ways to relieve myofascial ‘adhesions’ without pulling or pushing the skin. Cupping gently allows the layer below the skin to separate which allows for more blood flow and a reduction in inflammation due to increased blood supply”.
To use a visual: When you pull the skin off a raw chicken you will see a layer of tissue that is thin and transparent. This is called fascia. Every muscle has fascia around it including ours. When we have repetitive use or any trauma to the muscle, sometimes just by using them for everyday things, they can develop adhesions.
Adhesions are when the fascia sticks to surrounding muscle fascia and the subcutaneous layers of the dermis (skin). When this happens we lose range-of- motion to the area and a sensation of "pulling" because the muscles are literally stuck together. Cupping gently lifts the dermis off the underlying muscle and breaks up the adhesions.
When the adhesions are released there is an increase in blood flow and range-of- motion to the area. For athletes this allows them to move their bodies comfortably through the full range of their activity with muscle that is well infused with blood, for oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, and reduces their risk of injury to the area. The marks it leaves behind are stagnant blood that is lifted to just under the surface of the skin. They fade in a few days but they're a reat conversation piece until they do!
It does the same thing for even non-Olympians. We all have repetitive activity in our lives whether it's blow drying your hair, walking the dog or sitting in front of a computer moving a mouse around all day.
According to Cusumano, "Repetitive stress injuries are a multi-million- dollar problem in this country. People move in the same way, repeatedly for years, until somethings starts to hurt or feels stuck. And this is how cupping is effective for everyone with a body”.
Cupping prevents injury due to overuse but it is also extremely effective when treating an injury. There are many uses for cupping aside from the adhesions. Cupping is a safe, fast, and effective way to reduce risk of injury and increase mobility.
“And cupping is not new. It has been around for thousands of years. Every culture has its own uses for it” says Cusumano, who went to acupuncture school with people from around the world: Korea, Russia, Poland, “and everyone had a story of how their mother or grandparents used cupping on them when they were little. The reasons were all different.”
If you are interested in experiencing how cupping can be an efficacious part of your treatment regime to maintaining good health and wellbeing, mention it during your next session with youracupuncturist. You will be surprised at how gentle and effective it is.
To schedule an acupuncture session at Hygeia Integrated Health LLC, or to attend our monthly community acupuncture sessions, please call 914-352- 6116 or visit www.hyinhealth.com