As new blood is forced into the tissues around the cups the body will begin a process of new blood vessel formation called neovascularization. These new vessels can feed the tissues with nutrients and oxygen, leading to lasting pain relief. This helps to relieve muscle tension and can promote cell repair.
In addition, the suction of cupping can help stretch the fascia and relieve deep fascial adhesions allowing muscles to move freely for improved range of motion and performance. This is often referred to as fascial release. Along with increased blood flow, the negative pressure of cupping can also promote increased lymphatic drainage of toxins.
Cupping is an ancient complementary and alternative medicine technique that involves placing cups on the skin for a variety of health purposes. Inside the cup, a vacuum or suction force pulls skin upward. Originally this was done by heating ceramic or glass cups, but now many practitioners have switched to a plastic cup with simple rubber pumps which create the suction. The cups can be left stationary or slid along pre-oiled skin, depending on the goal of treatment. Generally, cups will remain on the skin for 5-10 minutes. While cups can be applied to just about any area of the body, it is common to have cupping performed on the back, neck, shoulders and thighs.
Cupping is considered a low-risk therapy. Some may experience lightheadedness, sweating, or nausea during or immediately after treatment as a result of the increased blood flow or release of toxins. It is important to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol before and after your session.
The process should not be painful. You will feel a small amount of pressure from the suction but this will go away as the cups are released. After treatment, your skin may turn red as the blood vessels respond to the change in pressure, similar to a bruise. This discoloration will vary for everyone and can last anywhere from 2-10 days.
Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a skilled therapy that uses specialized tools to manipulate the skin, myofascia, muscles, and tendons. The tools are usually made of stainless steel with smooth, beveled edges and contours. The technique has evolved from Gua sha and is similar to that of cross-friction massage.
Similar to cupping, IASTM breaks down fascial adhesions and stimulates a local inflammatory reaction to kick up the body's own cascade of healing activities. It is beneficial for many conditions including: low back pain, neck pain, sport injuries like sprains and strains, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, rotator cuff tendonitis.
Cupping and IASTM therapy are not recommended for everyone. For most patients, cupping is safe to try and could complement an existing treatment plan. If you are interested in adding cupping to your healthcare regime, schedule your appointment online now!