Cupping Happy Valley & Sandy, OR


Cupping therapy may be the in thing now, but it’s not anything new. It was used by the ancient Middle Eastern, Chinese and Egyptian cultures. Cupping is actually an ancient form of medicine where cups are put on the skin to create suction. Since that time the technique has been refined and the practice today is significantly different. Today, it’s used to help with relaxation, blood flow, pain and tissue mobility. Some think of it as a deep-tissue massage in reverse.

How Cupping Therapy Is Done

A physical therapist uses a suction pump or elastic cup to create a light vacuum. The vacuum causes the skin to rise and the blood vessels to expand. From there the cup can be slid along the skin to create a shearing or sliding force inside the tissues. In modern cupping, the cups are rarely left in a fixed place and should not cause bruising which is a sign of tissue damage.

Why Cupping Therapy Is Done

Physical therapists may sometimes use cupping as a technique of tissue distraction release. The cups are glided across different areas to lift and separate tissue. It enhances the release of the interfaces between the neural tissues, fascia, skin, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Some patients with myofascial pain report resolution of pain after just one session. There is also some evidence to suggest that cupping techniques are an effective part of treatment for chronic neck pain, low back pain and fibromyalgia. It has also been shown to relax muscles, release trigger points, improve lymphatic flow, increase local circulation and mobilize scar tissue.

The three cupping techniques are longitudinal, cross fiber and circular. The longitudinal technique is the most common, and the cup is glided longitudinally across the muscle fibers. The cross fiber technique is used when it is believed that the tissue is scarred. The circular technique is used at the end of the session to ensure that all areas were covered.

Cupping therapy is popular among athletes. Numerous athletes from the Olympics in Rio 2016 used cupping. An athlete patient with over a year history of iliotibial band (ITB) pain reported instant relief following a three-minute session of cupping. The technique was repeated a week later. Following only two cupping sessions, he was symptom-free and returned to his usual running. What can we learn? Cupping therapy may potentially be more effective than techniques that focus on further compressing down on soft-tissues that are hypothesized to be tight.

There’s real science behind cupping therapy. By creating suction with negative pressure tissues slide and “ease up” adhesions, move excess fluids and mobilize connective tissues. It’s a versatile treatment and can be modified from deep tissue release to lymphatic drainage. This modality is sometimes used in physical therapy and medical massage.

Cupping should not be performed on skin sites with wounds, infection, burns or active inflammation. Sometimes it can create bruises on the skin, but never intentionally. Bruises typically resolve themselves with time.

Would you like to know more about cupping? Contact us at Happy Valley & Sandy, OR centers. We’ll schedule an appointment and assess whether or not you’re a good candidate for cupping therapy. It’s not for everybody. Our skilled physical therapists will do a full assessment of your condition and needs.