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Massage Cupping - Sept 2010
Sports Massage - June 2010
Massage Cupping
September 2010

Background History

Massage cupping is traditionally known as a Chinese Medicine or Acupuncture technique, but it can be mastered by massage therapists to complement their professional tool box. Cupping has been regarded as a medical practice as early as 28 A.D. It was originally practiced to drain toxins from snakebites and skin lesions using hollowed out animal horns to suck poisons out of a recipient's skin. As more was learned about human physiology, the therapeutic applications of cupping were applied to an increasing number of health conditions. Accompanying the progression of this therapy, the cups originally crafted from horns evolved to bamboo, then glass and sometimes plastic. Practitioners have relied on cupping's strong suction to increase circulation for:

  • Tightened or painful muscles
  • Sprains or strains
  • Pinched nerves
  • Lung congestion
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

Cupping Theory

Cupping is known for its ability to break up localized stagnation. Cupping is a manual process of applying various sized suction cups to the skin in a massage-like procedure. With negative pressure, rather than compression, cupping releases rigid soft tissue; drains excess fluids and toxins; loosens adhesions and lifts connective tissue bringing blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles. Once an adhesion or congestion is pulled away from its source, fresh blood, energy and fluids rush in to expedite healing by increasing the efficiency of the body's waste removal systems. This dramatic increase in circulation makes cupping a valuable complement to bodywork. The stagnation can be of just about any type: blood, toxins, qi or dampness according to TCM theory. Stagnation types consist of the following:

  • Blood Stagnation - Injuries, adhesions, menstrual irregularities
  • Stagnant Toxins - Gastrointestinal disorders, rigid muscles, breast inflammation
  • Qi Stagnation - Muscular pain, dysmenorrheal, pinched nerves
  • Fluid Stagnation - Lung congestion, asthma, lactation dysfunction

Cupping Variations

Suction may be achieved using either of the following methods:

Fire Twinkling Method - The practitioner clamps, then ignites a piece of alcohol-soaked cotton, places the flame into a glass cup, removes it quickly, and then inverts the cup onto the skin. Because the flame consumes the cup's oxygen, a strong suction is created.

Suction Pump Method - usually composed of plastic, these cupping sets allow the practitioner to use a pump to remove the oxygen from the cup, thus creating suction.

The following techniques may be applied during a session:

Stationary Cupping - A cup is applied to a specific, congested location and left there for up to 15 minutes.

Running Cupping - Plenty of lubricant is applied to a broad area, a cup is adhered to the body, and then moved around the affected area without breaking the seal. Massage therapists can mimic several types of massage strokes by working with this technique.

Practical Application

Massage Cupping can be combined with or used as a supplement to traditional massage sessions. The results from the cups are comparable to other treatments such as electric stimulation and ultrasound. The pulling action engages the lymphatic system and helps to stimulate lymph flow circulation by up to 10 times its normal rate. Especially therapeutic for anyone with edema, swollen glands, toxic sludge buildup throughout the body, muscle strains, scar tissue and discoloration or chronic low immunity.

Range of Treatments

  • Pain Management
  • Reduces scar discoloration
  • Relieves post-operative swelling
  • Reduces wound healing time
  • Enhance immune system function
  • Enhance collagen production
  • Stimulates skin metabolism
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500 S Sepulveda, Suite 207, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Terri Castrup, N.C.M.T.
Nationally Certified Massage Therapist
Licensed & Insured
(310) 251-5251