Before I come back to my question of what is cupping therapy, do trust that I understand that the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine has been vetted by celebs and athletes alike (hellooo, Michael Phelps). But the stegosaurus spine and resulting bruises still leave me wondering exactly what the purpose of it is. So, I was in for a treat when I learned the latest episode of Well+Good's YouTube series What the Wellness, would follow video producer Ella Dove as she undergoes the practice herself.
By baring her back to test the practice's efficacy in aiding everything from sore muscles to menstrual and hormonal issues, Dove's aim is to provide an answer to all of us still wondering what is cupping therapy, anyway, and how does it help us?
Turns out, a lot of the value of the practice has to do with blood distribution. "Cupping utilizes a flame, which goes inside of a glass cup, which creates a vacuum on the inside, and that goes outside your body," says Klara Brown, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. "What happens is as the heat evaporates, it creates a really intense suction that pulls upward at the muscle and connective tissue."
Okay, let's just pause for a second at "flame, which goes inside a glass cup," because I am internally shrieking at the concept. So, I think, perhaps it helps to instead consider cupping as the benign reverse of a deep-tissue massage. That seems to make sense, after all—cupping draws blood away from the body, effectively removing blockages and any sort of stagnation.
"The goal with it is really to help improve circulation, and that helps the body facilitate the natural healing process," Brown says. That sounds…amazing—as does how absolutely relaxed Dove becomes when Brown rubs jojoba oil all over her back before placing the flame sticks into the cups and !!!
…Apologies—that was me turning into the screaming emoji for a moment, but I'm back. Is cupping therapy worth its skin-popping salt, though? Much more so if it works, right? To find out if it does, watch the full video here.
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