Cupping Therapy

Cupping is a form of therapy used at Haley Rehab with roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Initially, it was used over acupuncture points, over openings in the skin to bleed out toxins or infections, and for chronic muscular conditions. This form of cupping is called wet cupping .The original form of cupping was done with hand blown glass heated over a flame and placed on various acupuncture points until the skin was raised and red or purple in colour. Although some practitioners still use glass cups, many now practice this ancient art with plastic or silicone massage cups.

Dry cupping is more common these days. Cups are applied on skin that’s intact, so no bleeding occurs. Dry cupping is the form that is used at Haley Rehab. For dry cupping, it can be used in two ways, either stationary or dynamic.

Stationary cupping is applied to an acupuncture point or an area where the underlying tissue has fascial adhesions or thickening of the skin or muscles.  It can be left for five to fifteen minutes to allow the adhesions to soften and the muscles to relax. The dynamic form is more commonly called massage cupping, which is the gliding of the cup over the surface of the skin after lotion, oil, or water has been applied. Dynamic cupping is used when larger areas need to be worked on and for stimulating lymph flow.

Positive pressure is the typical type of pressure we are used to having with physiotherapy and massage therapy where a downward pressure is applied by the therapist to the client’s tissues. Based on the stage of healing, the amount of tissue under the skin, or sensitivity to positive pressure, some clients are not able to handle the normal positive pressure. Cupping is a form of negative pressure that actually lifts the skin up into the cup from the underlying tissue and can be just as effective, if not more effective than positive pressure in managing muscle tightness and scars post operatively.

The benefits and effects of cupping include:

increasing blood flow to an area;

reducing facial adhesions;

softening scar tissue;

softening radiation fibrosis (a thickening of the skin in a radiated area);

helping to draw the lymph away from an affected area.

Side Effects:

Reddening of the skin is common and may take four to five days to dissipate. This is caused by blood being drawn out of your capillaries and into the affected tissue. Generally, the more fascially restricted the tissue in the area of cupping is, the greater the redness.  Your therapist will initially try a light approach to see if your skin can handle the suction created by the cup.