GO CUP YOURSELF Part 3: Cupping Benefits & Indications
October 12, 20204 min read
Jenn Slade, a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist (LMBT), Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and a pre-med student of Osteopathic Medicine shares advice on why you may consider adapting cupping at home for self-care.
In today’s series of Go Cup Yourself, I’ll be talking about developing a home cupping practice and some things that you might need to know before getting started with cupping yourself or with seeking cupping therapy from a licensed professional. In the first video I spoke about cupping and why one should consider adding it to their self-care practice. In part two, we talked about safety and contraindications for cupping and what areas to avoid.
So before we get a little bit further along into how to actually do cupping and what cups I suggest you purchase and how to address certain issues, I want to talk about indications, which is a little bit more fun than contraindications, because in indications for cupping, we can talk about who would benefit a from cupping, who this therapy is for, and just touch a little bit on some of the conditions that cupping can be really beneficial for.
So why try cupping? The number one issue or concern that we commonly address with cupping, at least in my practice with my clients is tight, restrictive tissue. Tight tissue responds really well to cupping.
This is because cupping helps to lift and create separation in restricted layers of tissue. Once the separation is created, it results in an improvement of blood flow into previously restricted areas. And remember, blood carries in nutrients and oxygen into the cells. The separation of layers also allows for better lymph flow. Lymph fluid is what carries metabolic waste and helps clear and expel toxins and other cellular debris from body.
Some of the other benefits of cupping are relief from muscle pain and soreness, this is because cupping can help pull out lactic acid and inflammatory byproducts from the tissue while simultaneously creating release in the tissue on the cellular level.
Then we have cupping for scars. Cupping works wonders for C-section (cesarean scarring), scars from orthopedic surgeries, even laparoscopic surgeries. All of these things can create hiccups in the fascia. Even a small scar can cause pain somewhere else in the fascial chain, somewhere else in the body that can be traced back to that restriction in that little spot. Cupping can help break up scars or adhesions and soften the scar tissue.
Gut health: one of the many things cupping can help is support a healthy digestive system. Many suffer from constipation, and there's a lot of really beautiful abdominal work that we can do with cups to help relieve constipation and get the bowels moving.
Next, we have facial cupping. In addition to rejuvenation benefits of face cupping, cupping can also help with acne scarring. I, for one, have some acne scarring that I love working on with cupping on my face. It's a very gentle cupping practice compared to other cupping practices. With facial cupping, we do not leave any marks on the face at all. The only time that I may see any kind of cupping marks potentially come up on the face is if I am working on TMJ issues. So anything within the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), we can apply cupping to help release some of that restrictive tissue. Another reason for facial cupping is lymphatic drainage. Cupping works really well for congestion, face puffiness and allergy relief.
Cupping is also great if a client experiences a limited range of motion. If you have a restrictive rotator cuff muscle from some scar tissue, surgery or previous injury, you can cover the whole rotator cuff area with cupping cups, and then move/take your arm through a range of motion. The cups are going to help stabilize the joint but also help release the muscle when it's held in certain positions.
I want to touch up on some other conditions where cupping may help. These are headaches and migraines. With cupping, we can release a lot of restrictive tissue through the base of the skull, the neck and the shoulders. Tightness in the pecs, can also contribute to migraines and headaches, chronical and acute.
Additional things that can be improved with a practice of cupping are: diaphragmatic release, hip flexor work, trigger points, neck and back pain, shoulder tension, other common muscle soreness and pain, rehabilitation from orthopedic surgeries, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, low back pain, hip pain, IT band restriction, knee pain, quads, calves, hamstrings and so much more.
As a runner, especially somebody who runs on the beach a lot, I cup my quads, hamstrings and calves to help pull fresh blood flow and help flush any stagnant waste products out from the tissue to help with faster recovery. And then there is knee pain. Knee discomfort often relates to either restrictions above or below the knee joint as so many different things attach to that joint and cupping application can address this as well. As an athlete, I can tell you cupping helps so much with improving my quality of performance long-term.
So today I covered just some of the key indications for cupping that I commonly come across in my practice. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are many other great benefits and applications of cupping therapy. I hope you found this interesting and maybe I sparked some space for exploration and got you excited about learning more about cupping.