Boulder Cupping & Manual Therapy
Manual Therapy includes Cupping, Gua Sha, and Tui Na, as well as the use of Topical liniments and Essential Oils. Tui Na, pronounced “twee nah”, is a form of Chinese manipulative therapy. The details of tuina’s techniques and uses were originally documented in The Yellow Emperor’s Classics of Internal Medicine, which was written about 2,500 years ago. I may use range-of-motion, traction, massage and acupressure to stimulate channels, muscles, and acupuncture points before during or after treatment. This manual technique manipulates qi just like acupuncture, removing blockages which stimulates circulation. Fresh oxygen and nutrients flow into muscles and waste products are flushed out. This speeds healing and relieves pain. Tui na is especially effective for musculoskeletal conditions, but may be used to aid in digestive, respiratory, and OB/GYN disorders. Tui na is a wonderful alternative to acupuncture for infants and young children, for whom needles would not be appropriate. Tui Na is included at the end of acupuncture sessions when indicated and is not offered as a stand-alone treatment. Read more about the benefits of Tui Na here.
Cupping, also known as myofascial decompression, is a traditional Asian medical technique. Cupping works to alleviate pain and tightness, improve range of motion, and aids in detoxification.
Glass cups and a flame or silicone cups and pump are used to create suction on the skin. This increases blood flow and manually breaks up fascial (connective tissue) adhesions.
By creating more space between muscle, fascia, and bone, we improve range of motion and reduce pain and discomfort. Old stagnant blood is flushed out of the tissue and fresh new blood infuses the area to promote faster recovery and healing.
Cupping feels similar to massage and most people find it very enjoyable. The cups often leave purple or red marks that can indicate areas of poor circulation and blood stagnation. These marks will fade within 1-5 days. Areas that take longer to fade indicate less blood flow to those tissues. Cupping is used primarily for muscular tightness and pain, circulatory dysfunction, and treatment of respiratory symptoms.
Boulder cupping sessions are often performed at the end of an acupuncture treatment, but can also be scheduled as a stand-alone treatment. For rates, see Book An Appointment.
Gua Sha also called Graston Technique by physical therapists, is a traditional Chinese medical technique for moving blood stagnation in tissue. First, massage oil or herbal liniment is applied to the skin and then a smooth flat tool is used to “scrape” along a channel or muscle, or dig into trigger points. “Gua” refers to the scraping motion, and “sha” refers to the redness that appears on the skin. Often, red or purple dots will rise to the surface indicating areas of greater stagnation. These marks may take several hours to several days to fade. Gua sha is often used on the upper back and neck to treat muscular tightness and pain, as well as to help with respiratory infections. Gua sha can be used anywhere on the body for pain.
There is some wonderful research showing gua sha has immune and anti-inflammatory effects in addition to the evidence of dramatic increase in surface circulation: The Science of Gua Sha
Topicals & Essential Oils
I use topical herbal liniments on areas of pain or trauma to help speed healing. I use liniments with homeopathic properties (e.g. arnica), essential oils, as well as topical Chinese herbs as needed during treatments. Specific essential oils can promote relaxation, energize the mind, or have antiviral and antibacterial properties.