Myofascial cupping is a soft tissue technique designed to loosen, lift and separate
our layers of tissue. Firm silicone cups are used to create a negative suction effect
which also draws blood flow to the surface and through areas of tightness and
tension in our body.
This suction and negative pressure effect is used to encourage blood flow, loosen
muscles and stretch the myofascia tissue. The myofascial tissue system is a network
of connective tissue throughout our body that connects the skin to muscles, muscles
to bones, and surrounds our organs. The distraction and suction of cupping
techniques can help to stretch and release this connective tissue. It is commonly
used to relieve pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, radiating pain, and
inflammation in our bodies.
The cups may be made of glass, bamboo, earthenware, or silicone. The technique
dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the
oldest medical textbooks, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians
used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C. for internal disease and structural problems.
The practice of cupping involves distracting and gliding along the tissue. The cups
aim to release tension over muscle trigger points, encourage circulation, and reduce
inflammation. It has been shown to help boost immune function by moving blood
and lymphatic fluid throughout the body. Cupping works by stimulating inhibitory
neural pathways, altering pain thresholds, promoting circulation, relieving swelling
and increasing tissue temperature.
Poor circulation can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body. This build up can be the
root cause of many different health conditions. Cupping can help to reduce
stagnation in our body. This increase in blood flow to an area also brings nutrients,
platelets, white blood cells and fibroblasts to aid in healing. This technique helps to
heal knots and adhesions, so can be great for scar tissue or a stubborn injury that
just isn’t getting better. This is why many athletes have recently turned to this
therapy to help their bodies recover faster from intense workout sessions. It has
been shown that cupping helps to move stagnate lactic acid and metabolic waste
from the tissue and enables normal lymphatic flow. Scenarios where cupping may
be contra-indicated would be over an acute musculoskeletal injury, over a deep vein
thrombosis, infectious disease or malignant tumors.
If you are interested in trying cupping or have an injury that is just not getting
better, the therapists at Bragg Creek Physiotherapy would love to help you out!
Jennifer Gordon (BScPT, Gunn IMS, AFCI)