Dry Cupping

Dry cupping is a safe and enjoyable treatment. It is effective on its own or as an adjunct to massage, myofascial release or manual lymph drainage.

Cupping is an ancient therapy found across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Perhaps the best known application of cupping is in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it applied for many medical conditions.

Suction is created under the glass, bamboo, metal or silicone cups placed on the skin. The superficial tissue layer is drawn up into the cup, which stimulates the circulation of blood, breaks up adhesions, and clears "toxins" through the lymphatic system. Cupping can also affect deeper tissues; thus affecting blood and lymph vessels, fascia, muscles, and scar tissue. Fascia can be stretched a lot with cupping. This produces a stretch reflex, which reduces muscle tension. When 10 (or so) cups are placed around an injured area this can produce a stretch reflex within the connective tissue and fascia, which results in increased pliability and range of movement.

Touching Well offers three types of cupping techniques:

  • stationary cups
  • gliding cups, or
  • cups with pulsating vacuum.

All these are exactly what the names imply: For stationary cupping one or more cups are placed in the treatment zone and left there for up to 20 minutes. In gliding cups one or two cups are moved over the skin (after application of oil, balm or wax) usually along or across fascia / muscle planes or lymphatic pathways. Both kinds of cupping can be applied with or without movement of the client, just as other myofascial techniques.

Recently we did a cup suction massage on my abdomen: the difference was remarkable. 
Jo, Nottingham

For the cupping with a pulsing vacuum we use the Hevatec, which creates a pulsing of the suction applied to the cups. This is particularly useful for scar tissue, lymphatic work and joint problems.

What does it feel like?

The sensation of cupping is unique and usually pleasant to the receiver: the gentle suction is pulling away tension and pressure from tight and painful areas of the body. Afterwards it feels like you have just received a deep tissue massage. Typically with massage you press into the tissues, whereas cupping is the opposite with tissues pulled up. However, just as with direct myofascial release, there can be a burning sensation on and around the treated area, particularly so with moving cups or client movement with stationary cups.

"I have experienced cupping for the first time today on my upper and lower back. Although a little unsure at first, I did enjoy the treatment. After a few minutes of cups being in position it felt like a reassuring, heavy warm blanket lying across my upper back. My back now feels relaxed and a bit tingly, which is nice. I would recommend this treatment."
Jane C, Carlton, Nottingham

Depending on the amount of suction and the state of the underlying tissues, it can leave marks that vary from a light yellow to pink to dark purple. In Chinese medicine it is believed the darker (or the more white/yellow) the marks, the more stagnation of qi and blood. Stagnation implies "unhappy tissue" and can lead (or has already lead) to pain and dysfunction. From a Western perspective, cupping creates more space between the tissue layers to increase circulation, get rid of cellular debris, excess fluids and residues, and breaks up scar tissue. The marks are caused by this debris being pulled up and deposited under the skin; which is the most effective place for the lymphatic system to drain them away.

To recap, the benefits are:

Dry cupping:

  • stimulates a whole body relaxation (parasympathetic) response,
  • increases circulation of blood to the area, this leads to more oxygen and nutrients in the tissues,
  • removes metabolic debris in muscle tissue, fascia, and skin,
  • promotes a feeling of lightness and relief of pressure,
  • increases range of motion, breaks up adhesions,
  • promotes healing in scar tissue and chronic injury sites,
  • increases lymphatic drainage & promotes circulation,
  • cupping techniques that include active movement stimulate the nervous system and help to re-educate muscle memory and proprioception,
  • it aids the management of pain, as cupping reduces muscular tension, nerve compression and irritation through the build up of chemical irritants
  • it can be used massage is not tolerated, for example due to pain or or high stress levels.

Caution:

  • cup marks – may take a few days to fortnight to fade completely,
  • protect area from extreme changes in temperature (hot sauna or cold draft) directly after a treatment. In Chinese medicine cupping opens your pores, making you susceptible to catching a cold,
  • not to be used if you have thin or damaged skin, nor over varicose veins or enlarged blood vessels,
  • not to be used if you are taking blood thinners (anticoagulation).

Overall, cupping is a safe and enjoyable treatment. It is fantastic on its own or as an adjunct to massage, myofascial release or manual lymph drainage.


Just for the record,

Touching Well offers dry cupping. Wet cupping, also an ancient therapy variation, is where the skin is lacerated and "stagnant" blood is sucked into the cup. 


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Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® - ATMAT -
- Seated Acupressure - Indian Head Massage - Pulsing - Reiki -
- Reflexology - Tsuboki Foot Massage - Hopi Ear Candles -
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Hot and Cold Stone Massage - Myofascial dry cupping -
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Aromatherapy Massage - Aromatherapy Lymphatic Massage (ALM) -
- Fertility Massage - Pregnancy Massage - Post-natal Massage -
- Dorn Method - Breuss Massage -
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) - Deep Oscillation -
- Holistic Facial - Face Vitality - Total Detox -


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