Cupping therapy has been around for thousands of years. Hippocrates and Galen were both fans of therapeutic cupping. Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured,” - famous Chinese saying What does cupping do? Cupping is a technique that uses small suction devices that are placed on the skin in order to disperse and break up stagnation and congestion of energy, blood, and other humors, by drawing them to the surface. Once on the surface, they can be properly flushed into the lymph system for faster healing. The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like inverted massage . The gentle pressure draws the muscles upwards instead of pushing them down. For many people, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes, and the therapist perhaps works other parts of the body. Client After-Care Instructions After your cupping and/or gua sha session:
☯ Drink plenty of water.
☯ Do not exercise until the next day.
☯ Avoid chills, drafts or heat for 4-6 hours.
☯ Avoid showers, steam and sauna until the next day (if you must bathe, keep it luke warm).
☯ Do not receive other body work for 48 hours, as this could overload your system or negate the work that has been done.
☯ Remember that cupping and gua sha start working on detoxifying and opening the lymphatic pathways more slowly for those who have more “solid bloat.”
Subsequent sessions will yield even better results and eventually sessions will not take as long. Types of Cups:
-These cups are amazing for self cupping before and after exercise, and also to use on trigger points and the belly of the Trapezius Muscle (between the neck and the shoulder bone, at the high point (GB21) for Headaches.
These are excellent for both gliding on muscles, as well as for static application.
These cups are glass bottom and do not have as much suction as the above cups, making them very useful for sensitive areas such as the face. Facial rejuvenation cupping is quite popular and effective.
The cupping set that I prefer to use in my professional practice is the below set. I can use them with magnets (never near metal in the body, ) and also without magnets for both static and gliding application. They can also come apart and go in the dishwasher for sanitizing.
Below is an excellent video showing self cupping for relief and assistance in stretch.
“Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.” - Old Chinese saying
The old Chinese medical maxim holds that pain results from the congestion, stagnation, and blockage of Qi, or vital energy, vital fluids, lymph, phlegm, and blood. If the manifestation of pain is the symptom the body presents, then the suffering is the result of obstructed or irregular flow of energy throughout the body. Cupping then breaks up the blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can do the following: loosen muscles encourage blood flow sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure) relieve back and neck pains & stiff muscles remove toxins improves blood flow through the veins and arteries may relieve muscle spasms relieve anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism diminish cellulite improved metabolism bring relief from constipation restore a healthy appetite
strengthen digestion detoxification of skin and circulatory system For weight loss and cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin, and then the cups are moved up and down the surrounding area.
Cupping has also been noted as an effective alternative method of treating acne, pain, facial paralysis, cervical spondylosis - which is common amongst those that back squat very heavy), and herpes zoster. Contraindications for Cupping: (DO NOT Cup if these conditions are present:) Cupping should also not be performed on children under age four, and only for five minutes on children up to the age of seven and ten minutes on children from ages seven through fourteen. In general, cupping is contraindicated directly on veins, arteries, nerves, skin inflammation, any skin lesion, body orifices, eyes, lymph nodes, or varicose veins. Cupping is also contraindicated on open wounds, bone fractures, and sites of deep vein thrombosis. Severe diseases - such as cardiac failure, renal failure, ascites due to hepato-cirrhosis and severe edema, as well as hemorrhagic diseases such as allergic pupura, hemophilia and leukemia, and clients with dermatosis, destruction of skin, or allergic dermatitis. Broken bones, dislocations, slipped discs, those undergoing cancer treatments such as radiation (check with doctor), sunburn, ruptured/ulcerated/inflamed skin, fever- you will be sent home, bleeding disorders, acute stages of Psoriasis, Eczema, or Rosacea. *If you feel you may have a contraindication to cupping, it would be best to check with your Doctor, as they can write you a script to present to the Massage Therapist.
Muscle groups that are beneficial for cupping in athletes: Hips, ITB, Glutes, Quads and Hamstrings, Lower Legs & Ankles Back, Scapula & Surrounding, BACK of the Neck), Subclavius, Pecs & Shoulders.
Cupping can assist in myofascial release. This is when the fascia has adhesions and becomes "stuck." This can not only be the cause of great pain in a certain area, but it can also cause secondary issues, as the body tries to overcompensate for itself. Moving the cups along the tissue is a great method to assist in myofascial release. Scar tissue is also caused by adhesions, so cupping assists by breaking them up to allowing better flow of blood and lymph, as well as freeing the formerly bound muscle tissues in the immediate area, resulting in an improved range of motion and performance.
Be sure to search on YouTube to view videos of Therapists performing cupping on these areas! Hip and Thigh, Glutes, Iliotibial Band (ITB) Area around the Trochanter, the bony tuberosity on the right immediately below.
Calves and Feet (the pain and discomfort in the feet often comes from the tightness in the Peroneus Muscles below just deep to the meaty calf muscles. they will often feel like guitar strings when gently palpating the Gastrocnemius and sinking to the lateral edge. )
The below image shows full cupping of the fascia on the bottom of the foot. This is amazing for mobility!
Back, Scapula, Shoulders, Back of Neck:
Erector Spinae muscles (shown below) are usually very tight in Athletes.
Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Serratus Anterior
Further Suggested Reading:
These two tests will provide great guidance for musculature.
The chart to the left, and the text to the right, will be direct guidance specific to cupping in trigger points throughout the musculature.
I hope you have found helpful information here. Please remember to always check with your physician prior to beginning any new healthcare regimen, especially if you have any known or suspected conditions. Worship the body, feel good, enjoy the contrast, be amazing. Namaste.