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  • Writer's pictureAJ Kirkpatrick, PT, DPT

What Is Cupping?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Cupping, aka myofascial decompression, is a technique that has been used for thousands of years to improve mobility of the area of the body being cupped. The origins of this technique involve using some form of heat, such as a flame from a match, to heat up the air inside of a glass cup. Once the heat inside the cup has been heated, the cup is placed onto the desired area of the skin. As time passes, the air in the cup cools creating a decrease in pressure within the cup and the skin stretches into the empty space of the cup creating a suction-like environment. This technique allows the cup to lift the skin, as well as the deeper layers beneath the skin, such as the fascia and muscle tissue layers. As the cup continues to grab onto the skin, capillaries within the different layers of the skin break and allow fresh blood and nutrients to flow the newly created space within the tissue layers. This is the origin of the circular bruising typically seen after most cupping procedures. Cupping has evolved over time as technology has advanced, and it is typically seen being done with plastic cups that have a special valve to allow suction of the air out of the cup.

Why Do People Get Cupped?

Most techniques used during any type of massage involve some type of compression of the skin, and in turn, the tissue layers underneath. Cupping is one of the few techniques that decompresses these tissue layers. This helps break up excess scar tissue and fascia which has been laid between the layers from the stresses of life, and therefore, creating friction between the layers as they try to slide along each other when as move. Not only does cupping stretch out the fascia and scar tissue between the layers, but it also allows for fresh blood flow to fill within the newly expanded space. If there are any damaged tissues in this area, this creates a great environment for healing of the internal layers between the skin and muscles.

layers between the skin and muscles

How Can I Get Cupping Done To Me?

Cupping is not the correct technique for everybody. It all depends on each individual’s limitations and goals. A proper evaluation done by a Physical Therapist is a great choice of action if you, or someone you know, thinks that they may be a great candidate to receive cupping, aka myofascial decompression. Feel free to call/text or email us at any time to learn more or to set up an appointment for an evaluation. If you are in the Mission Viejo area and think you, or someone you know, might benefit from physical therapy, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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