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Chinese cupping is a type of alternative therapy using cups, which are placed on the back to create suction. The suction can facilitate healing with blood flow, as well as the flow of qi in the body. Qi is a Chinese word meaning life force. As blood circulation is increased to the area where the cups are placed, it may relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. Cupping may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue. During a cupping treatment, a cup is placed on the skin and then suctioned onto the skin. Your skin may turn red as the blood vessels respond to the change in pressure. Any bruising or other marks usually go away within 10 days of the session.
Myofascial cupping is a soft tissue therapy that encourages healing by creating a negative pressure or suction on the skin using plastic or glass cups that pull up underlying tissues, blood, and other fluids close to the surface of the skin. Myofascial cupping does not use scalpels or needles.
Cupping has increased in popularity and is used as an integrative therapy in modern medicine. Myofascial cupping is often incorporated into other manual therapy techniques such as massage therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and other injury rehabilitation techniques.
A myofascial cupping treatment uses a combination of massage strokes and negative pressure to lift, separate, and stretch underlying soft tissues. Cupping is typically applied on the neck, shoulders, back, sacrum, hip, abdomen, thigh, calves, and upper arms. Areas of musculoskeletal tension or congestion are located using massage techniques, and cups may be applied on an affected area and moved over the surface in a gliding motion, or possibly put on a fascial adhesion or trigger point for a short time to reduce or eliminate it.
Myofascial cupping uses cups made of glass or plastic; some have soft squeezable bulbs at one end and some can be attached to a machine or manual pump that creates the suction. These methods avoid the danger of using heat and fire to depressurize the cups. Cupping procedures may leave light to dark red marks on the skin that disappear in 5 to 10 days.
Myofascial cupping can help treat soft tissue conditions and musculoskeletal tension, pain, and common sporting injuries. It can also create relaxation by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.