First For Women

HOW CUPPING COMBATS BACK PAIN

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Cupping has been used for centuries to reduce pain and heal injuries. But how does it work? “Much of pain comes from tight muscles and connective tissue,” explains Jessica Peatross, M.D., adding that the vacuum effect of cupping helps move toxins trapped in tight tissues. This increases healthy blood flow, which promotes healing. The proof: In one study, subjects with lowerback pain who had three cupping treatments over one week reported a 74% reduction in pain—and the effects lasted three months. Plus, cupping works for both chronic and acute pain. “When you injure a muscle, the muscle tissue separates and the soft tissue falls in the separated areas,” asserts Shea Stark, a chiropract­or at Stark Chiropract­ic and Sports in Houston. “Then the muscle starts to heal around the soft tissue, creating knots. Cupping breaks up those knots, opening the injured areas to healing.”

So what’s the deal with those dark marks that appear on the skin after cupping? “The marks occur as blood is brought to the surface,” says Dr. Peatross, who personally uses cupping for pain from a back injury. The markings are painless, and get lighter the more you use the therapy. If you want to try it, Stark says it’s best to go to a chiropract­or or massage therapist once to see what it’s supposed to feel like. “But after that, you can use a cupping kit at home.”

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