Cooperative Healing offers both whole sessions devoted to cupping, and cupping as part of a more traditional therapeutic massage treatment. You can book your appointment here.
In a session involving cupping, you will undress as you would for a more traditional massage session. You will be fully draped, as with a normal massage session. Your therapist will apply oil to your skin, and then, using massage cups, your therapist will work first to bring blood flow to your tissues, and then to relieve congestion and restriction in your tissues.
Cupping involves creating a vacuum above a specific area of tissue, and gently drawing the tissues up into the cup. This vacuum, or suction, allows the therapist to work on deeper tissues by gently pulling the tissues upward instead of applying pressure to muscles, as a therapist does in most massage therapies. Additionally, many of the restrictions in the tissues actually release more easily as a result of the negative pressure. (Image from Renu Massage & Bodywork)
Once the suction has been initiated, the cups can be gently moved across the skin (often referred to as “gliding cupping” or “moving cupping”). For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation, however where tissues are particularly stiff or restricted, the feeling can be quite intense.
Cupping often allows therapists to achieve results much more quickly than with traditional compression massage. This is particularly true of problems with the “IT Band”. Additionally, cupping can often alleviate chronic, long-term pain more quickly than many other approaches, sometimes even in just a few sessions.
Cupping increases blood flow to the treated area, and “blood vessels widen when the muscles relax, and the nervous system is also stimulated, which helps the body recover from pain.” (Aschenbrenner). Cupping helps clear blockages, improve blood flow, open tissues, release adhesions (like scar tissue), and soften hypertonic muscles. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can also sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is particularly effective for deep tissue therapies. “It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin.” (Rushall). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, shoulder pain, low back, hip, or sciatica pain, chest tightness associated with respiratory ailments, stiff muscles, plantar fasciitis, anxiety, fatigue, and migraines. It is also good for any joint or fascial pain that you might be struggling with. “Even numbness from nerve restrictions can be alleviated from cupping therapy.” (Aschenbrenner).
One style of cupping treatments follows the lines of the acupuncture meridians. There are five acupuncture meridian lines on the back, and cups are often placed along these lines — or moved along these lines. Of course, cupping can be used along any of the 14 main Meridians. Using these points, cupping can help to align and balance qi, as well as address more specific issues. By placing and moving cups along the meridian channels, cupping strives to ‘open’ these channels. According to Chinese Medicine, these channels are the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs. Providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi (life force) improves over-all health.
“The Chinese Medicine Meridian System”, Academy of Oriental Sciences, http://www.acos.org/articles/the-chinese-medicine-meridian-system/, accessed Aug 21, 2016
+ British Cupping Society, http://britishcuppingsociety.org, accessed Aug 20, 2016.
Applications: Why do it? What is it used to treat, March 28, 2016, accessed Aug 20, 2016
Chinese Cupping, http://www.chinesecupping.com/history_of_chinese_cupping.html, 2008-2016, accessed Aug 20, 2016.
Rushall, Kathleen, The Many Benefits of Chinese Cupping, http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/09/20/many-benefits-chinese-cupping, 9/20/2014, accessed Aug 20, 2016
“Cupping Therapy”, English Osteopath, http://www.englishosteopath.com/cupping-therapy/, accessed August 21, 2016
Aschenbrenner, Heidi, “Delve deeper into your muscle restrictions with cupping therapy”, Renu Massage & Bodywork in Madison, http://www.renumadison.com/tag/cupping-therapy/, July 23, 2014, accessed July 21, 2016
Last revised March 26, 2017.