What is Cupping Massage?
Massage cupping is a form of therapeutic bodywork that is used to facilitate deep tissue release and aid in bringing about numerous healthful benefits to the body, such as:
Tissue nourishment, &
How is the Technique Performed?
Massage cupping is performed by applying ‘reverse pressure’ to the body, via glass or plastic suction cups that are generally placed or massaged along problem areas, in the direction of natural lymphatic flow.
Suction cups may be magnetic or non-magnetic, with positive & negative poles, to help enhance the tissue-healing process.
Sessions are typically from 30 to 90 minutes in length, and integrated with traditional massage therapies.
Goals & Benefits
The technique namely focuses on reducing stagnation &restrictions in problem areas, by breaking down adhesions/knots, and by helping to increase fluid (i.e., blood & lymph) circulation.
Massage cupping helps to reduce the build-up of cellular waste, toxins, inflammation, & excess fluids by assisting in dragging them from deep within muscles/soft tissue, to the body’s surface, where they can be more efficiently disposed of, via the lymphatic system.
More specifically, the massage cupping technique assists in …
Sedating the nervous system
Stretching muscle & connective tissues
Loosening adhesions & scar tissue
Nourishing blood supply to the skin
Indications for Massage Cupping:
Massage Cupping is reported to be beneficial for numerous conditions, such as….
Tissue & joint inflammation
Stagnant lymph & edema
Sluggish, devitalized skin
Massage cupping is not to be used with excessive exfoliation.
Clients must avoid exposure to excessive heat (shower, sauna, etc.), cold, or exercise after cupping sessions (for at least 4-6 hours)
Clients should drink sufficient amounts of water subsequent to cupping sessions.
Massage cupping should not be used on clients with:
Pace makers or
Low Blood Pressure
Energy Depletion (Exhaustion), or Clients who are Pregnant
Cupping must also be used with caution on children, the elderly, diabetics, and persons with varicose veins.
Can anything other than lipo suck away your cellulite? Andrea Wren turns to Chinese Medicine's 'cupping' method in the hope of a non-invasive cure
Remember Gwyneth Paltrow turning up at a film premiere covered in what looked like octopus-sized love-bites a few years ago? She had been 'cupped'. Her marks were the result of her skin having been sucked up, quite literally, into vacuums created by the action of heated glass cups placed across her back.
Cupping therapy isn't a 'new' discovery. 'The oldest recorded medical textbook, written in approximately 1550 BC in Egypt, mentions cupping.
'It is used for many conditions like headache, back pain, joint and muscular pain, infertility, sexual disorders, rheumatic diseases, hypertension, but it is especially good for detoxification and circulatory problems.'
Upon hearing this, the first thing I did was survey my thighs. Lumpy? My granny's porridge looked smoother than these babies!
Cellulite, as we girls know, describes the fat deposits under the skin that give the 'orange-peel' appearance. Diet, lifestyle factors, pregnancy and exercise can all help or hinder. Simple genetics can also mean some of us just have it, whatever we do.
There are many forms of cupping therapy, says Clinton, but for cellulite and fat breakdown in particular, it is 'massage cupping' which works best. 'Negative pressure on the skin, formed through the heated cups, releases the rigid soft tissue. This helps drain excess fluids and toxins, loosen adhesions and lift connective tissue. It brings blood flow to undernourished skin and muscles.'
There are no needles involved, so what did I have to lose? I found South Manchester-based cupping practitioner Alison Levelsey (www.the-soulcoach.com) and booked four sessions in a bid to iron out the bumps. But how effective could it be for my thighs?
'You will normally begin to see a change after two 20-minute sessions,' Alison informed me. 'Though how many sessions it will take to be dimple-free will vary for each client, depending on the level of cellulite. By session four, the client should see a difference to the orange peel effect and the area treated should be slimmer.'
Thinner as well? I couldn't wait! 'I see cupping as a natural alternative to liposuction,' remarked Alison. 'It uses the heat suction to clear stagnation. This promotes the blood to naturally flow into the blood vessels, also flushing fat cells naturally out of the body.'
At my first session I lay in my knickers, thighs exposed, waiting for Alison to attack my 'problem areas'. Bless her heart, she said I didn't have many, but those regions where cellulite did exist proved to be as stubborn as only 20-year-old cellulite can be.
It was rather a strange process watching Alison use flames to heat the inside of the 'mini-goldfish bowl' cups and then place them on my oil-slathered skin. She then rubbed them over the skin once the vacuum had formed, and on occasions, it did sting rather a bit. Alison told me cup suction would be tighter on the areas where the problem tissue was deep.
However, I was able to jump off the bed after half an hour or so which would obviously not be the case with liposuction. Which, while it isn't known as a cellulite treatment, it is used for fat reduction.
Alison added: 'In my opinion, liposuction is invasive and it takes some time to recover from the treatment. It can create infection and is expensive. Cupping is gentle, non-invasive, and there is no recovery period. It is also a therapeutic treatment for the rest of the body, and costs around £45 per session.'
So did it work for me? After the final session, my thighs weren't thinner, but I could see that there was an overall smoother appearance to my outer thighs, my main target area (mini-skirts, hurrah!). I have to admit, though, it would have taken a miracle to have removed the cellulite I've had since being a teenager, definitely more than four sessions.
Alison says: 'There are no guarantees to time as it will depend on the client. As with any treatment, a healthy eating plan, exercise and lessening the toxicity put into the body are an important part of maintaining the treatment.' But she adds, 'The aim of all hands-on techniques such as cupping is to use physical application in order to stimulate the body's natural healing powers. This occurs by balancing the physical, mental and emotional energies to restore health to the individual.
Parenting: Information & advice
Since the techniques use negative pressure, rather than tissue compression, superior bodywork ranging from MFR and deep tissue work to MLD is easily accomplished. The suction of the cups rapidly facilitates rigid soft tissue release by stretching it up from underlying structures, thus loosening areas of adhesion or restriction, activating muscle spindle reflexes that relax contractile tissue and retraining the myofacial structures. Further, it stimulates the nervous system reflex to the cerebral cortex, contributing to an increased rate of recovery from pain and disease.
The effects are remarkable on hypertonicity and aching muscles and activate the secretion of synovial fluids, which release joint stiffness in ways not possible using the pressure of traditional massage. It concurrently creates localized expansion of tissue, producing a profound vasodilatation reaction - drawing blood flow to areas of ischemic pain, raising skin temperature, promoting metabolism within the skin tissue for better functioning of sweat and sebaceous glands, flushing capillary beds, draining stagnant blood, toxins and lymph, and re-supplying vital nutrients.
Its use in beauty therapy is based around promoting hormone production, encouraging blood and the secretion of digestive fluids and increased peristaltic movements in the bowels and internal organs, thus removing harmful toxins that speed up the ageing process and other degenerative conditions. Another effective application of the cupping technique is in the treatment of cellulite. A very light suction provides drainage, while heavier application can be used to stimulate circulation and loosen adhesions or “dimpling.” The thighs and hip region should be cupped prior to a wrapping procedure to enhance the absorption of topical products. Another application of Negative Pressure Massage include an extraordinary face lift and drainage treatment and the addition of new equipment that include negative and positive polarity magnet make Biomagnetic Therapy potentials tremendous.
Benefits to the Recipient
- Deep tissue work and release without discomfort
- Moves stagnation and drains fluids
- Relieves Inflammation
- Nervous System Sedation
- Breaks Up and Expels Congestion
- Stretches Muscle and Connective Tissues
- Loosens Adhesions- Pulls blood supply to the Skin
- Facilitates the movement of Qi and Blood systemically and locally
- Dispels wind, damp and cold to treat muscle and joint pain, stiffness, and arthritis
- Strengthens the immune system by promoting the flow of lymphatic fluid
- Treats excess heat conditions, fever, stress, depression and anxiety
- Cleans the blood and lymph and helps to balance PH levels
The suction created by cupping pulls stagnant fluids to the surface, removes toxic pathogens and promotes fresh oxygenated, nutrient rich blood & lymph
Conditions Responding to Cupping Therapy
As these treatments gain wider audience and applications are addressed, new and sometimes surprising results occur.
This list is a partial, but steadily growing one that we will keep updated.
Colds & Influenza
High blood pressure, stroke and arteriosclerosis
Bronchial asthma & congestion
Kidney disorders (including frequent/urgent urination)
Dispels colds and respiratory infections
Relieves gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea
Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Anxiety & insomnia
Musculo-skeletal problems: pain, spasms, cramps, tightness, numbness, stiffness of the back and neck
Chronic gastric pain
Activates the skin, clears stretch marks and wrinkles and improves varicose veins
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR CUPPING
Cupping is contraindicated in cases of severe diseases, i.e. cardiac failure, renal failure, ascites due to hepato-cirrhosis and severe edema, as well as hemorrhagic diseases such as allergic pupura, hemophilia and leukemia, and clients with dermatosis, destruction of skin, or allergic dermatitis. Cupping should not be applied on the portion where hernia exists or has occurred in the past. For pregnant women, the lower abdomen, medial leg and lumbosacral region should be avoided.
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