Cupping therapy is a therapy that combines massage movements with a negative pressure with the use of suction devices applied to the skin. Through the negative pressure (suctioning), fresh blood and lymph are drawn into the tissue, accelerating the healing response by the draining of cellular waste.
Excessive stagnation that is deep within the muscle tissue or joint can be released through cupping therapy, thus relieving inflammation, pain, and stiffness. So how exactly does the waste leave the body? The vacuum created with the cupping releases heat from the tissue and the congestion is then liquified and brought to the surface of the skin where the lymph system and small capillaries carry it away.
Cupping Therapy Techniques and Tools
A typical cupping treatment will begin with warming up the body with hands or by gliding the cups across the fascia. This helps the area to become more supple, preparing it to receive the treatment. During this time the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged resulting in relaxation.
When cups are used to begin the therapy, lightweight oil is applied to help the cups move easily across the skin. Further, introducing suction at this point allows lifting of the skin during the gliding strokes, releasing adhesions and toxins in the superficial fascia.
Today a variety of cups can be used in cupping therapy. From traditional cups that require fire to silicon cups and machines, therapists can apply various cupping massage techniques to the body.
The use of silicone cups allows a therapist to simply compress the cup to remove oxygen to create suction. The level of suction can be manipulated by the compression applied to the cup. Silicone cups come in various sizes and shapes and due to their flexibility, they can be used on areas such as the shoulder and neck.
Regarding techniques, cupping movements can either be sedating or stimulating. When stimulating the skin, a therapist will use the cups to create friction, shake, or vibrate the area. To sedate or drain, cups are used to pump, rotate, or park the fascia.
The Therapist’s Role
In cupping therapy, the cup is only as good as the one holding it. Through the cup movements, a therapist should be able to feel and see issues in the tissues. Glass or clear silicone cups will magnify the tissue, allowing the therapist to see restrictions or inflammation.
Various skin colors or how the cup will stop or drag in certain areas offer visual cues to therapists helping them to customize the cupping therapy for their client. Cupping therapy is a non-invasive and safe mode of therapy that should only be performed by a certified therapist. The therapist should screen their patients carefully and always maintain a sterile environment.
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