Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston were all bruised up on the red carpet? Then the winter Olympics 2010 in China, when the Chinese divers’ backs were covered in hickey marks? Just recently we saw Michael Phelps and other American swimmers in the Summer Olympics with dark bruise-like marks on their backs and shoulders. The media explodes, again, with “What is this strange phenomenon?”
This treatment, as you’ve heard, is Cupping: An ancient Traditional Chinese treatment (and diagnostic tool) to treat injury and pain. This method is used to pull cellular waste and toxins out of the deeper tissue and up to the surface where the capillaries can clear it out easier. Cupping helps to increase circulation and decrease pain, and can also help with common cold and flu symptoms.
The dark marks last anywhere from a few days to two weeks, depending on the level of stagnation or injury. Clients report that they feel wiped out or deeply relaxed after a treatment, so we encourage a lot of rest and drinking plenty of water after a cupping session to help move that stuff out.
In this video, Susan Johnson explains the ancient art of cupping and its use not only as a therapeutic method, but also as a diagnostic tool.
What is Stagnation?
Stagnation is pretty much lack of circulation or movement. You might at times feel “stagnant” or “stuck” in life, where things just aren’t going right. Your body (or certain parts) can get stagnant from overuse, injury, under-use, poor posture, dehydration, pollution, medications, a poorly balanced diet, over eating or malnutrition, and stress.
The best way to prevent or move stagnation is exercise & diet— suited to your body type. Some bodies don’t do well with vigorous workouts, and some thrive in those conditions. Also, eating foods seasonally, fresh, and for your body type– this is an example of when Leah’s Ayurvedic work is incredibly useful. Nourishing your body in the way it needs will help prevent and move along stagnation. Rest when you need to and push yourself if you have to.
A big Duh in the face of stagnation is hydration. If you don’t have enough fluids in the body to move the blood and clear up lymph, then you’re going to be continuously stuck. Drink a large glass of water (or two) in the morning upon rising, add some lemon for extra liver-moving effects, and set yourself up for success. Use the simple tactics first, then move on to more aggressive interventions if those don’t work.
Medications are a biggie when it comes to stagnation. Since medications aren’t really balancing the disorder, rather masking the symptoms, the natural ability of the body to heal itself is slowed down. Medications can cause an imbalance in another part of the body, so make sure that you’re supplementing where you need to. Our practitioners can help guide you to the best supplements that won’t contradict your medications, are effective and potent, won’t break the bank, and we can consolidate your supplements so you’re not suffering pill fatigue. Over the counter supplements cannot be trusted, because we don’t know what is in them, the fillers, or the quality of the nutrients. Our supplement companies are pharmaceutical grade, well-researched, and trusted.
Do you have more photos?
Yes! The photo above is from Meg. We cupped her upper back to alleviate pain and stress and help her relax. That photo was taken the night of the session, where the cupping marks are still quite obvious. She had a lot of redness, but no lasting dark, purple marks like we’ve seen elsewhere.
Here we see SS, four days after her session. The overall redness has dissipated from immediately after the treatment and the marks that are left are from deep stagnation. You’ll see on the neck, where the marks are really dark– the cups were only on that area for a few seconds, and that’s all the stagnation we moved! S. reported that she had zero pain that night, and felt great! She is under treatment for Lyme Disease, which can cause patients to can feel a lot of pain, tightness, and completely wiped out by the die-off. Lyme can present with other co-infections which may carry up to four times their weight in toxins, so when they start to die-off, the patient is left with severely exacerbated symptoms.
Lyme tends to hide out and fester, so this is a great example of how cupping is very useful. The treatment helps bring the toxins out of the deeper level of the muscle, into the lymph areas to be cleared out. 10 days to two weeks after this session, we’ll do cupping again and see how the color of the marks have changed, showing that the toxins are being cleared. If the same dark marks come up, then we know that she’s still dealing with a lot of stagnation lodged in the tissue.
Individual cupping sessions are available at Pekoe, as well as add-on treatments during your acupuncture or massage appointment. Ask your practitioner if they offer it, and when it might be best suited for your case!