Myofascial cupping (Chinese cupping)
Myofascial cupping is a technique taking from Tradition Chinese Medicine. This therapy uses plastic vacuum cups that are attached to the skin through suction, causing negative pressure or pulling on the skins surface that promotes a healing response.
Cupping has been used by many cultures throughout the world for thousands of years to relieve various musculoskeletal symptoms. The cupping is used to stretch the soft tissue and immobilise dysfunction tissue to restore function and mobility to injured or overworked muscles. A small hand-held vacuum pump is used with plastic cups, which have a valve at the top, to induce a vacuum seal over the surface of the skin. The vacuum draws the skin, underlying fascia, and muscle into the cup, creating negative pressure on the targeted area where it is held for normally two to five minutes.
The tissue that is being targeted is fascia that is a connective tissue, providing support and protection to all the structure in the body and myo-fascia, a fascial connective tissue specifically related to muscle. This is different from massage as it lifts and separates the tissue, rather than compressing it. The cupping creates a passive stretch to the tissue allowing it to release much quicker and negative pressure will increase blood flow to the injured tissue enhancing an inflammatory and immune response (Chirali, 2014).
Myofascial cupping can provide profound benefits, particularly assisting with increasing range of movement of joints, it can break down tight muscle tissue and eliminate trigger points, reduce swelling, and reduce restrictive and sometimes painful fascial adhesions commonly formed from repetitive movement or injuries (Chirali, 2014). By reducing fascial adhesions, while increasing nutrient rich blood flow, oxygen, and hydration to the soft tissue it can assist in maintaining healthy and functional soft tissue.
Myofascial cupping can leave discolouration marks caused by ecchymosis, which is leakage of the blood into the tissues, as opposed to bruising, which is a painful contusion under the skin following a blow or breakage of the skin (Chilrali, 2014). These discolouration marks can last for a few hours to a few weeks depending on the level of dysfunction or stasis of the tissue.
Myofascial cupping is a highly effective and pain free treatment that is used frequently in the Koru Massage clinic, with the client's consent. It is integrated into massage treatments by targeting specific areas of complaint and treating various problems. It is an excellent complimentary treatment to assist in softening the superficial layers of muscle and fascia, enabling a deeper and more effective treatment.
Chirali,I (2014). Traditional Chinese medicine cupping therapy (3rd edition). China