Fire, Suction and Back Pain Relief: Yes Really!

September 20, 2011 0 comments Pain and Injury

Computer use creates stress because its often associated with work, but it’s also our posture while working at the computer which creates tension in our shoulders and neck, often leading to tension headaches; a double whammy of psychological and physical stress.  Fire Cupping together with acupuncture helps achieve both mental calmness and release of muscle tension. 



Many of you know I’m a big fan of the Chinese art of Cupping and some months ago I spent a day in Reading learning some advanced techniques.  One was an emergency technique of throwing some lighted paper into a mug and putting it on to a person’s back.  Works a treat at relieving intense muscle spasms and the flame goes out immediately due to lack of oxygen, just in case you are wondering.  Our teacher said it’s his favourite ‘party’ trick at his local pub!  In this article I explain about cupping and what it can do for neck and shoulder aches and pains below.


What is fire cupping?


Fire Cupping is a safe and effective adjunct to acupuncture.  It offers benefits hard to achieve in other modalities of Chinese Medicine and manual physical therapy, such as massage.  In China, fire cupping is used on about two-thirds of all patients, yet is often underused here in the West.  So what is Fire Cupping? It is the wafting of a flame into a glass cup to burn out the oxygen and create a vacuum; the cup is then placed on the skin and draws up the underlying tissue.  This action increases local blood circulation, releases tight muscles to enable joints to move more freely. It is excellent on tight upper back muscles.  I have seen fantastic results when using both cupping and acupuncture on many conditions, including frozen shoulder.  The photo above shows me doing cupping for a tight upper back.


Flash cupping


Flash cupping


Flash cupping can effectively and quickly relieve severe back muscle spasms.  The photo shows this being done.  The cups are placed quickly on and off in sequence down the back.  It feels great!  So why is there reluctance to use cupping in the West? It’s not suitable for all patients.  Those of a nervous character are fearful of the flame; it also leaves some very colourful marks (as blood is sometimes drawn out of local blood vessels), which can last for a week or more.   This is all part of the healing process, but unless explained correctly, can be off-putting to the patient.  Once experienced though, patients start asking for cupping because they know how effective it is. If you’ve got tight “computer-shoulders”, come in for a session and see what you think of the thousand year’s old tradition of Fire Cupping.



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