Image depicting myofascial cupping being performed on a woman's back

What is Myofascial Cupping and why we use it at Holistic Bodyworks?

What is Myofascial Cupping?

You may have seen the odd athlete or person walking the streets with dots or round bruises on their shoulders and back, this can be the result from ‘Myofascial Cupping’ or ‘Cupping’.

Cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy where a glass, bamboo or plastic cup is placed against the skin. With suction to remove the air pressure within the cup, the skin and superficial muscle and connective tissues are sucked into the cup.

Myofascial Cupping has been used since ancient times in many cultures but more commonly in Traditional Chinese Medicine or Acupuncture treatments to decrease stagnant, congested blood flow and energy through the body. However, in more recent times health professionals have come to realise that in the same process, we can apply the same materials with a different end goal in mind – to release these soft tissue structures!

You may remember our post a few weeks ago about ‘Myofascial Release’, well Myofascial Cupping is another technique we use to aid in the treatment of fascia.


Why do we use it at Holistic Bodyworks?


Cupping is much like a reverse massage where instead of compression into the soft tissue, suction is applied as they are pulled into the cups. This has been shown to create movement and gliding of the tissues beneath the surface, decrease muscle tension and increase blood flow which in turn helps, nourish the area with oxygen and aid in healing.


How is it done?


Traditionally, glass cups were used and the suction was created using heat, but this is becoming less widely used as plastic cups with a pump suction came into play. The plastic pump cups remove the need for flame to create heat which is a safer process and allows for quicker application.

There are two forms of Myofascial cupping;

  1. Gliding – Where oil is applied and the cups are glided across the skin surface pulling the tissues into the cup as it moves along the skin.
  2. Stationary – Is where the cups are places on one specifically tight area or “knot” and left for 3-5 minutes depending on the client. This is where the mark are more likely to occur.


Does it hurt?


This will differ from client to client depending on how tight you are and your level of sensitivity. While the suction may feel odd at first a stationary cup may feel tender to begin with but this will likely easy as the cup is left there. The gliding cupping can be uncomfortable to start with if you are really tight, but the amount of suction used can be decreases and increase to allow for this.

As with most other manual therapies, you may experience some post treatment tenderness and as mentioned above these may be some bruising at the cupping sight. This is superficial and should only last about a week.


If you have any questions about cupping, ask one of our practitioners at your next appointment – or book an appointment with Alana our Myotherapist to see if it’s something that would compliment your treatments.