While cupping massage therapy may be a relatively new technique to the western world, it’s an ancient therapy that was used to overcome injuries and combat illness.
Cupping has been practiced for centuries in eastern cultures such as China, Egypt, and the Middle East, with some of the world’s oldest medical texts making reference to it.
Moving into the 21st century, according to a randomized controlled trial published in 2017, cupping massage has shown to be effective in pain management — at least for sufferers of chronic neck pain. The therapy not only reduced pain but increased neck function.
Not surprisingly, the term cupping comes from the cups massage therapists use to create suction. Today, these cups can be glass, earthenware, or in our case, silicone.
Methods and Techniques
While there are different methods, what’s known as dry cupping is the most common.
Small silicone cups are used to create suction on the skin. In theory, much like silicone suction cups one might use around the home to hold things to walls. In the case of cupping, a therapist will press the cup against the skin, pushing out the air and creating a vacuum as they do so. This leads to the suction needed for the therapy.
In a dry cupping procedure, cups are typically removed within 5 to 10 minutes.
Cupping is often combined with massage therapy.
The Benefits of Cupping Therapy
The purpose of cupping is to increase blood circulation to an area. The direct benefit of this can be an improvement in overall circulation, a release of muscle tension, and increased cell repair. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Patients who suffer from arthritis and the resultant joint pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility can benefit from cupping. Since these conditions arise due to inflammation, treating the affected areas can help reduce the swelling and ease symptoms.
Depending on the type of headache, various cupping techniques may help. Those who suffer from sinus, cluster, tension, stress, or migraines can seek treatment that targets different areas of the head, face, and neck.
Fascial Release / Repair
Fascial tissue responds to the stimulus of cupping. The suction and vacuum effects lead to increased blood flow to the area, which both alters and corrects the surrounding tissue effectively. In turn, the increased blood flow enhances the uptake of oxygen and nutrients to the area. This relaxes muscles and reduces pain as the constricted fascia lifts and separates.
Sciatica and Lower Back Pain
Cupping is a proven technique used to reduce the pain associated with sciatica. A therapist will position cups along the length of the sciatic nerve and any musculature along the route that may compress it. The suction created by cupping can loosen tight muscles surrounding the nerve. This can alleviate some of the pressure and supply nourishment to parts of the sciatic that may be damaged due to blood flow being restricted.
An inflamed or frozen shoulder can benefit from cupping. A frozen shoulder is the result of connective tissue or fascia either getting stuck in the shoulder joint or stretching too tightly around it. Treatment focuses on reducing shoulder pain and increasing or restoring movement of the shoulder joint. As an added bonus, muscle knots and constrictions in the area are cleared away.
Which type of massage is right for you?
If you’re looking for a dynamic cupping treatment, give us a call and let us know that you’d like cupping when you book. Are you confused by all the different styles? Don’t worry about what techniques we’ll use, just book an appointment and our staff will help you with the rest.