While the popularity of cupping has significantly increased in the past recent years, it isn’t a new practice. In fact, it was originally used by the ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern cultures. It is an ancient form of alternative medicine that is performed by placing cups on the skin, in order to create suction. Today, it is used as a way to relieve pain, promote relaxation, enhance blood flow, and ease inflammation. To find out more about how cupping may benefit you, contact Fast Track Sports Medicine & Performance Center today.
How is cupping performed?
Cupping is a fairly simple process. Plastic cups are placed on areas of restriction. A physical therapist uses a rubber pump to create a vacuum effect, and silicone cups are sometimes used to create a massage effect.
Why is cupping performed?
Cupping can sometimes be described as a “tissue distraction release” technique. During the cupping process, the cups are held in a static position while the patient moves or they are glided across different areas of the body in order to lift and separate tissue. This works to enhance the release of the interfaces between the neural tissues, fascia, skin, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It relaxes muscles, reduces fascial restrictions, improves lymphatic flow, increases local circulation, and releases scar tissue adhesion. Evidence supports cupping as an effective treatment method for several conditions, such as neck pain, low back pain, and postop conditions.
There are three forms of cupping techniques: longitudinal, cross fiber, and circular. The most common form is longitudinal, where the cup is glided longitudinally across the muscle fibers. Cross fiber is used when it is believed that the tissue is scarred. Circular is typically used at the end of the session, in order to ensure that all areas were covered.
It is no secret that cupping is a common and popular practice among athletes. In fact, several athletes from the 2016 Rio Olympics used cupping. A running patient with over a year history of iliotibial band (ITB) pain reported instant relief following a three-minute session of cupping. The technique was repeated a week later. Following only two cupping sessions, he was symptom-free and returned to his usual running.
While there are some apprehensions toward cupping, there is real science behind it. The suction within the cups is created with negative pressure, which helps to increase hydration and blood flow to body tissues, ease up adhesions, and eliminate excess fluids. It is a versatile treatment that can be modified for the necessary treatment of your condition, whether you are in need of deep tissue massage or lymphatic drainage.
It is important to note that cupping is not a treatment method that will be performed on skin with wounds, infection, burns, or active inflammation. It can sometimes create bruises on the skin that can last up to two weeks. Bruises typically resolve themselves within a few days and should not be of concern.
How can I get started?
There are several benefits to cupping. It can be used as an adjunct to speed up the recovery time of certain injuries and ailments, in addition to reducing symptoms.
Do you have an injury or health condition that is limiting you from living your life the way you want? If so, don’t hesitate to contact Fast Track Sports Medicine & Performance Center today. We’ll help you set up a consultation with one of our licensed Fairfax physical therapists to figure out if cupping is right for you!