The Benefits of Cupping Therapy

When working as a remedial massage therapist, I am rarely more impressed with the results that I can get for my clients than with cupping.  For those who have not heard of this type of therapy, cupping involves the use of glass, plastic or rubber ‘cups’ that are used to pull up muscles or tissues that require work, bringing increased blood flow and manipulation of constricted areas.  Personally, I use mostly plastic and rubber cups with my clients and have found that they can produce fantastic results when used in the correct way.  For most people, cupping brings images to mind of great big, dark circular marks on the skin.  These marks do regularly happen with ‘stationery’ cupping, where the cup is left in a certain area for a period of time, although they are no cause for alarm.  These are painless and actually can indicate a good outcome of a treatment, particularly if heeding the advice from Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Furthermore, Scientific research has shown that this type of cupping stimulates increased blood flow and has anti-inflammatory effects.  When performed correctly, cupping should feel comfortable and at the most as a ‘good ache’ (ie, similar to that felt in massage).  Cupping should never feel painful – this indicates that the cups have been applied too strongly.  

 In the case of using rubber cups, these are used by moving or pulling the cup around a certain area, sometimes in combination with stretching or movement of the limb / body.  I have witnessed the most significant results with this type of cupping.  Typically, moving cupping works very well with muscular tension and pain that has lingered and caused problems for some time – even years.  The advantage over massage in this case is that the cup serves as a ‘handle’ on the muscle or tissue, which allows it to be stretched outwards (in contrast to massage, through which tissues can typically only be pushed inwards or stretched to the side).  I commonly find that clients with a chronic issue will have a certain ‘matted’ feeling in the muscles in the area to be treated, which could indicate an increase in ‘adhesions’ in the tissue (defined as small bands of scar tissue joining two surfaces of tissue that are typically separate, potentially causing tightness and restriction in movement).  Moving cupping in cases like these allow these tissues to be comfortably stretched apart and in my experience can produce lasting effects that are more significant than that can be achieved through massage alone.  

 If you would like to learn more about this type of therapy, or would like to try a session for yourself.  Please contact reception on 3491 6533, to book in with Mick Craven.

Mick Craven is a qualified Massage Therapist and Exercise Physiologist who has many years of experience as a health practitioner.