Cupping 101


Got issues in your tissues?

Dating back to ancient Egypt, cupping therapy has been a natural way to heal the body on a variety of levels for centuries around the globe. Massage Cupping ™ Bodywork Therapy produces profound healing through the nervous system in the same way as traditional cupping. Stimulating the skin by increasing circulation, it promotes a hydrated glow, while separating fused tissue layers and draining lymph. The vacuum effect of the cup works deeply; loosening restrictions, it facilitates the muscles and fascia to function better. Thereby stimulating healthy elimination of accumulated debris in the tissues, organs and systems.

Conditions that respond to cupping:
• Fibromyalgia
• Poor Circulation
• Sciatica
• Insomnia
• Anxiety
• Cellulite
• Toxicity
• Asthma
• Pneumonia
• TMJ Dysfunction
• Diabetes
• Parkinsons Disease
• Chronic Pain
• Menopause
• Arthritis
• Neuralgia
• Poorly Nourished Skin and Muscle Tone
• Lung Congestion
• Migraine, tension headaches and sinusitis
• High or Low Blood Pressure
• Sluggish Colon and IBS
• Stagnant Lymph and Edema
• Pre and Post Operative Conditions
• Athletic Stress and Injury
• Bursitis
• Tendonitis
• Plantar Fasciitis
• Scar tissue and adhesions
• Spider Veins and Varicosities
• Muscle Aches

Cupping Applications:
∩ Cellulite Reduction
∩ Pain Reduction
∩ Joint Mobilization
∩ Lymph Drainage
∩ Scar Reduction
∩ Skin Toning and Firming
∩ Detoxification- Movement of Stagnation
∩ Releasing Tight Contracted Muscle Tissue
∩ Body Contouring
∩ Anti-aging Facial Firming
∩ Athletic Performance Enhancement

We are a walking history of our lives. Every injury, illness, surgery and even the toxic substances that we have been exposed to from conception onward may still be present in our bodies. While amazing in their efforts to protect us from the effects of our history, our bodies’ capacities are limited. Due to the demands that today’s lifestyles make on our systems, we become fatigued and sluggish. Cupping is great way to help clear out the “yuck” all while stimulating the relaxation response – and that’s never a bad thing!

Back on Track

I’ve been on hiatus lately. Some call it a “setback”, others: me, call it “one of life’s learning lessons”. I herniated my disc at L5S1 and had a bulging disc at L3L4. In other words, my back shit the bed. How’d I do it? Hula-hooping. Not flipping my car last March. Not skydiving in July. Not falling off a dj speaker in August. Maybe it had more to do with falling last winter learning to snowboard? Maybe I should have stuck to skis. It came out of nowhere – 1 morning after hula-hooping at a spa friend’s house, she was eager to show me how she keeps her abs so trim with a five pound hula-hoop. I hurt my back with a hula-hoop? Was this a joke?

I woke up and couldn’t actually get up. I crawled through my apartment, called out of work and cried my way to the emergency room. They gave me an x ray and said “good news, no broken bones” and sent me away with painkillers. I could barely walk and I couldn’t stand up straight.  This didn’t feel like good news.  My body is my livelihood, if it doesn’t work, I don’t work.  I also have to look the part.  I stared at the floor not because of my dismal predicament but because my back was so hunched over, looking up was physically impossible. The face of health and wellbeing turned to a grimace between ‘what the?’ and ‘ouch’. I drove home for the holidays and expected to drive back to Vermont on Christmas night.

I was now in the care of my divorced-now-back together-newly retired parents-turned-fulltime nurses-to me: their baby. There was nowhere to run and if there was a place, running was certainly out of the question. All of the risk factors for low back pain did not apply to me. Not stretching? I do yoga. On a more confident day I might admit that I’m a yoga teacher. Weak core strength? I taught a really long utkatasana in every class working the core. Overweight? I lost weight but was never really over weight before. How could this be happening? Christmas and New Years soon passed and I was still camping in the family room.

3 trips to the emergency room, an x-ray, a cat scan, an MRI, 3 weeks playing hooky from life, and 1 cortisone shot later, I still wasn’t feeling any relief. Painkillers weren’t doing anything for the pain, just screwing up my stomach. The pain management doctor referred me to a neurosurgeon. After 5 minutes with said surgeon he recommended surgery.  SURGERY!? Teenage angst had taken over my 32 year old being. My life as I thought it to be was “totally over”, my back was busted and my career as a body worker was finished. It was approaching a month in very real time.

I lie in the backseat in the car ride from hell with mom driving and dad in the front. We arrived safely from the surgeon’s office after my mom avoided 17 car accidents on the way home.  We got home and I looked around at my surroundings; I was waiting for doctors to fix me while staying at my parents’ house totally powerless.  I had had enough. I didn’t take any calls coming from the surgeon or no-name-scary surgeon’s nurse trying to schedule back surgery. I wanted my life back in Vermont.

The surgeon made back surgery seem like a walk in the park; only day surgery and I’d be on my feet in a week and just need a few weeks of physical therapy. According to the doctor, I’d be back to normal in 3 weeks. I knew better than that. I knew because my sister had back surgery twice. It was no walk in the park. I also knew from clients and my big sis that once you open the hood, there are always more problems, residual pain and nerve damage. I looked up this surgeon’s reviews online. It was shocking what I had found. This surgeon had a 2 out of 5 rating and the comments weren’t good. I felt like just a number; just a check from my insurance company is all my body was to him. I wasn’t letting him open my hood.

I gave myself one more week to get better this time trying a more familiar approach. I broke out the “Hare Krishna music” as my dad called it. I taught myself restorative yoga in 3rd person. My certification came in handy teaching the most difficult student of all: me. My voice was the insightful and demanding teacher totally disconnected from the student: my broken body. I YouTube’d guided meditations and listened while I envisioned myself pain free. I sent blessings to all of those suffering far more than me in the world and felt profound empathy in those painful and sleepless nights. I meditated to the color red for the muladhara chakra, the energy center located at the base of my spine where the problems were all located.

My low back issues caused a cluster f***; my sacrum was out of alignment, my glutes weren’t working, my toes were numb, and one hip was higher than the other. I saw my favorite massage therapist (which I should have done back in week one, but she is so good its impossible to get an appointment). I followed massage immediately with visits to the chiropractor. My mind became so determined to get better that my body eventually followed it’s lead. And no word of a lie, because hips don’t lie, I was able to drive back to Vermont after 1 week.

I write this now, 3 months after the night I hula-hoop’ed, and 2 months after being back to work. I’m back to massaging but not teaching YET. The punch to my ego for not being able to practice as I could a short while ago hurt just as much as the physical pain. This was a great lesson in the niyama, ishwara pradidahna, accepting this obstacle as part of my path and squashing the ego. I see a massage therapist, chiropractor and an acupuncturist regularly. I can’t do a downward dog yet but I can lay painless in savasana and for me this is progress.

My back is not yet at 100% yet but shifting the focus to facilitate healing through bodywork and a wellness practice was my best medicine. Healing began the moment I began to empower myself; taking matters into my own hands instead of relying on doctors and time (and maybe even mom & dad) to help me. Pain is an epidemic. They say it’s always best to get a second opinion.  In my case, the second opinion was my own gut – that took a back seat at first in the healing process. Lesson in life Chapter: Practice What You Preach: check.

Flippin’ Stress

It’s no coincidence that the word ‘stressed’ spells ‘desserts’ backwards. Lately, I’ve been realizing how stress has been a big factor of why I’ve flipped myself upside down, metaphorically and literally. It isn’t just some hippy sh**t– this healing stuff. There is science to back up the countless hours spent meditating, yoga’ing and receiving massage. The proof is in the pudding.

Stress is linked to the leading causes of death-heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide, (American Psychological Association). It takes less than a millisecond for us to “flip out” activating the “fight or flight” response, or in technical terms the sympathetic nervous system. Our heart rate, blood pressure, mental alertness and muscle tension all go up to serve our survival needs. The body shuts down digestion, elimination, growth, repair and reproduction systems so that we have the energy to defend.

Although we’re not hunting and gathering in the jungle these days, our genetic makeup is still wired the same. Instead of running from predators, we are now set off in an instant in our cars, in the office, on the web and in our own living rooms. These stress hormones; cortisol and adrenaline, are what allow a mom to lift a car off a baby. Stress hormones are useful at times but not always. Unlike other hormones that decline with age, cortisol is one that increases as you get older. It works against your body inhibiting maintenance and repair, which accelerates aging” (Dr. Al Sears). In chronic states of stress, our bodies begin to go “haywire”, our health diminishes and disease finds a place to live. The good hormones become diminished by the bad…

The “anti stress hormones” are the DHEA in the body. We secrete DHEA when we’re happy, secure and free of stress. The more DHEA in our body, the less effect stress will have on us. People with higher levels of DHEA experience “enhanced energy, better immunity, reduced body fat, sharper memory, and a reverse on physical aging,” (Dr. Rosenberg, The Anti-Stress Hormone). But, we lose DHEA during moments of chaos.  People that suffer from chronic stress have a DHEA deficiency.

Discovered by Dr. Herbert Benson, the relaxation response is a shift from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic system or the “rest in digest”. It moves the body toward a state of rest by lowering blood pressure, decreasing respiration, relaxing muscle tension, increasing blood flow to organs and shifts the good hormones to feel a sense of ease. Moving from the “flight or fight” to “rest and digest” takes 20 minutes. Seems kind of unfair that in less than a millisecond we are “flipping out” yet it takes much longer to calm down. But, that’s how we’ve survived.

Stress trumps mindfulness, we can’t help it; it’s in our genetic makeup. It’s  important to manage. Staying committed to a practice of easing is essential to keeping stress and it’s effects at bay. Give the body some yummy dessert with meditation, yoga and other relaxing techniques. Rest, digest, and just feel better.