Cupping. Oh my word. I had my first experience with cupping this past week and I have ALL THE FEELS.
First, let me just say that the way I felt post-cupping has made me an instant believer in this practice. HOWEVER, the thoughts of how I felt during the cupping sesh leave me paralyzed. But before we dive too into my particular situation, let me just detour for a quick second to touch base on the actual explanation of cupping.
For those of you who have never heard of this wonderfully painful phenomenon, or for those of you that maybe have heard the term in passing but don’t know all the ins and outs, cupping is the practice where cups, typically made of glass, are placed in specific areas and essentially suctioned to your body. The suction could happen in different ways; either by putting heat inside the cup to allow a vacuum effect to take place as the air cools or by use of a rubber pump which sucks the air out of the cup to create the same vacuum seal. There are also two kinds of cupping, wet and dry. Dry cupping is, to my knowledge, more common and just uses the practice I mentioned above. The cup is left in place for about a minute, up to 3 minutes. Wet cupping has an extra step. With wet cupping, mild suction is used for the same 3 minute max and then small incisions are made in the skin and the suction is repeated, drawing out a small amount of blood.
For the purpose of our discussion, we are only going to focus on dry cupping by use of a rubber pump. That was the procedure I went through Monday afternoon.
Cupping is used for many reasons and to treat many conditions. It is an ancient alternative medical practice and it has a lot of research to back it. Most commonly it is used to help with pain and inflammation and to increase blood flow to certain areas of the body. Which brings me to my story…
After the most miserable Sunday I have ever experienced and a trip to the ER, I ended up sitting in my doctor’s office on Monday afternoon. I was waiting to talk to him about the pain I had experienced and see the next steps he suggested. I ended up getting a whole lot more than I bargained for.
After discussing my symptoms and determining that it was a gallbladder attack, my doctor looked at me with a smirk on his face and asked, far too excitedly, if I had ever been “cupped”. I said no and he giddily left to get his cups. He explained to me that he uses cupping when a specific organ or area of the body is having some trouble in its functioning. He told me that usually an increase in blood flow can help to get the organs working better and that it should help to decrease any possible inflammation – which I loved since my stomach was considerably swollen (I mean I don’t want to feel or look pregnant until I actually am HA … but really). I got a warning that it may be a little comfortable and then as the first cup of air was suctioned out I was immediately paralyzed with feeling.
Truly I was shocked at how uncomfortable this was, possibly because the cups were placed on and surrounding my ribcage, but I was unable to take a deep breath and felt like the skin was being ripped from my body. I was lucky enough to get “two layers” as my doctor called it. 5 cups, put on twice in two different locations, totaling 10 really attractive red spots on my abdomen. For someone who willing puts my body through really grinding events on a regular basis in the gym, I was surprised how weak minded I felt during this entirely too long 3 minutes.
However, I cannot say enough how much I loved this procedure. All my issues and pain and medical nonsense are not magically clear but I felt infinitely better leaving my doctor’s office. Especially considering I spent the night before in the hospital and was told there was nothing going on and nothing they could do for me and after 5 hours was given a prescription for Tylenol 3 and sent on my way. I could not have been more hopeless and frustrated when I arrived at my doctor’s office Monday afternoon and the fact that I left smiling is a testament in itself.
Today the swelling of my abdomen has decreased significantly and my pain is not as intense or constant. I may have a VERY tender abdomen for a bit considering I was left with some nice size purple circles around my ribcage but really if that is what it takes to help the underlying issues then I will take it!
I was told that many times it takes more than one session of cupping to treat what we are hoping to treat so if I have another session I will report back on how my mental handled the second time around. But ultimately, I felt compelled to write about my experience in order to tell everyone to go get cupped!
Of course, please find a good professional to perform this. But all in all, if you are an athlete or if you are facing any medical issues, look for someone who practices alternative medicine and asked them about cupping! It was a life changing experience.
Better yet if you are in the Austin or surrounding area, give me a shout and I can pass along the information for the best doctor I have ever been to (with the exception of my daddy-o doctor of chiropractic :D). With the increase in issues surrounding Western medicine, I urge everyone to seek out a functional medicine doctor and discuss alternative procedures and homeopathic treatment. From someone who has suffered for almost a year with persistent medical issues, I can confidently say that the treatment plan established by my functional medicine doctor is the first one that has made any sense and the only thing that has made any difference in my symptoms. Here is to continuing down this path and hoping to be health issue free by my wedding! HASHTAG GOALS