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Just what is Myofascial Cupping?

You’ve probably heard the buzz about cupping therapy. When some of our US Olympic athletes in Rio were spotted with dark red circular spots and talked about using cupping therapy, it became national news. But it’s not new. Actually, cupping therapy is very ancient practice. Cupping therapy goes all the way back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures as early as 1550 B.C. In fact, we now use it here at Be Still Physical Therapy to help our patients find relief from a number of injuries.

In the last several years, variations to the traditional Chinese Cupping have emerged. At Be Still we use a form of cupping known as Myofascial Cupping. Myofascial cupping encourages the bodies natural healing processes which is why it is a method often utilized as a form of alternate physical therapy.

Myofascial Cupping is a type of massage cupping that uses silicon, plastic or glass cups to create suction on the skin to lift tissue as the therapist moves the cup to decompress underlying tissue. Think of it as a reverse massage, as instead of traditional soft-tissue techniques that use compression into painful tissues, the cups use vacuum suction (decompression) to pull the fascia away from the surface to release tight or painful areas. This suction pulls up the skin and underlying fascia which increases circulation to muscles and joints, helps to soften muscles and lift connective tissue to increase range of motion and break up muscle adhesions (commonly referred to as “knots”). It also aids in increasing the blood flow to the treated areas and drain excess fluids and toxins.

Myofascial Cupping generally uses 2 different methods:

Fixed and Moving Cupping:

Fixed is where cups are placed on the body and left in place without being moved.

With Moving cupping, therapeutic oil is rubbed on your skin. The cups are placed over the areas to be treated, then the therapist will slide the cups around the body, often having the patient move the muscle or joint nearby to assist in a greater stretch on the tissue.

Check out this short video clip of a Myofascial Cupping treatment at Be Still on the neck and shoulder blade area:


It’s really interesting to see the traditional methods intertwined with new concepts and theories. As we move forward with research and literature, we continue to see so many amazing changes to traditional theories, with Myofascial Cupping being a good example. From the early years, where it was solely used for medicinal and relaxation purposes to the current trend of using movement patterns, the treatment practice has grown immensely. Now, it’s the en vogue treatment for athletes and weekend warriors.

At Be Still Physical Therapy we use Myofascial Cupping to treat common injuries such as plantar fascitis, piriformis syndrome, IT band syndrome, bicep tendonitis, back and shoulder pain to name a few. There is generally no pain involved, most patients just feel tightness where the cup is placed and often leave with a “cup kiss” which is a good sign of a successful treatment. This discoloration is due stagnant blood being brought to the surface of the skin and it usually disappears within a few days to a week. Curious if it will help your pain? Contact us to discuss or schedule an appointment to try Myofascial Cupping today!

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