All about the Cups!

October 14, 2020

You may have seen them? Those weird little red marks on the shoulders of celebrities & top athletes? Michael Phelps bringing it to the attention of the mainstream media during the 2012 Olympics, remember? Ever wondered what they are? How are they made? Are they painful? Are they useful? Are they just a fad?

With these questions on my mind, I recently attended my long awaited & re-scheduled (damn you covid19!), MYOFASCIAL DRY CUPPING course. Here’s what I learnt, my thoughts on the practice & how I can incorporate it into my soft tissue treatments.

I’ve a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to “alternative” therapies, I like my techniques to be based on clinically evidenced data derived from tests & trials. However, a practice that has been around for 1000’s of years, is still used the world over across many different cultures & is stated to solve all manner of problems, must have something in it, surely?

Well I must say, any doubts I initially had were blown away within minutes of learning to apply & then applying the cups upon different body parts on myself & my partner for the day. Our course leader was a highly experienced lecturer in sports & health science & used dry cupping with great success in her day to day practice. Once we had gone over the eastern foundations of the technique & it’s link to energy (chi) within the body etc, we focused on the more practical western approach of using the decompressive affects of cupping to improve movement & reduce tension in the musculoskeletal system. Now we’re talking! This is what I had signed up for.

The technique of leaving the cups on the skin for several minutes around a problem area, looked quite dramatic, almost theatrical in its application. It would definitely be beneficial to draw blood into an area, almost as pre-warm up to massage. But it was the use of movement in the joint & the cups themselves, that I really saw how I could incorporate this method in my day to day work with my clients. Firstly, it felt amazing! Not painful at all. The vacuum caused by the cups lifted the layers of tissue & got to work on that often tight fascia that surrounds our muscles & internal organs. Introduce movement into the mix, either by contracting / relaxing a muscle group or by moving the cups as well, & you’ve got a whole new world of mobility.

Using the cups on my dodgy left hip & glute, my range of motion increased demonstrably & the pain on my glute decreased almost instantly. A few days later, the effects were still apparent, my deep squat game is now back on track! The same results for my often tight & inflexible left shoulder. After cupping my rotator cuff muscles & deltoids & using the soft tissue release technique on them, I feel I can move that arm through a greater range of motion than before, awesome stuff!

We applied cups & practiced on common musculoskeletal problem areas, all with a degree of improvement & success. My thoughts were cross-referencing like crazy to my existing clients with pesky long term & chronic problems, I kept thinking who would benefit from what & how it could really help.

Here’s where I think it can make a difference:

  • Tight forearms, both flexors & extensors,
  • Reduced motion in shoulders, rotator cuff injuries, tightness in upper back & neck,
  • Tight chest & pecs,
  • Reduced &/or painful movement in the mid & lower back,
  • Lumbar spine issues,
  • ITB & hip issues,
  • Glute & piriformis problems, internal / external rotation on the leg,
  • Abdomen & ribs (something we would normally avoid with massage techniques),
  • Plantar Fasciitis & tight calves.

So, if this is you, speak to me about trying some cups on that problem, you’ll be amazed! I’ve added some further details on the FAQ page here to answer any questions you may have.