Did you know that I offer massage cupping as one of the many treatment modalities I employ? In this post, I will explain a bit of what I love about massage cupping, why I use it, and why I don't.
What are the benefits of cupping?
Our bodies are constantly responding to the loads we are experiencing. Whether that load is a push, pull, stretch, or torque on our cells, our tissue adapts to each and every one. Massage is a way to intentionally load our cells in a way that benefits our whole body. I provide squish to parts of your body that have forgotten how to be squishy. I can push and press certain muscle and fascial fibers and encourage them to glide more smoothly, allowing for more freer movement. But while I always strive to provide lift in the tissue, promoting space between stuck-down layers, I can’t use my hands to simply suck tissue up. This is where massage cups come in to play.
My reasoning for using cups is that they do what fingers cannot: they provide suction on the skin. Because I believe that a big part of the benefit of massage as a whole comes from receiving unique and varied loads—input the body can use to heal itself better—my intention in placing a cup on your body will be to provide the sensation of lifting up in a region that has been feeling stuck down for a long time.
What can you expect if you choose to receive cupping?
If we decide to use some cups during your session, I will still use my hands most of the time. I will use a few cups here and there in areas that feel like they could benefit from some upward pressure. I won’t simply stick some cups on your body and walk away. I will be closely monitoring your tissue to make sure I don’t leave a cup in an area that becomes uncomfortable for you. I will be using my hands to massage nearby or I will be gliding the cups over your skin where appropriate.
Cupping can leave marks on your skin. These marks are the result of broken blood vessels, and they can take a day to a week to go away just like any minor tissue damage. These marks should not be painful. Like the ache of muscles that have been worked too hard, they can be sore if the cups were left in place too long. It is also important that you let me know if you are taking blood thinners, or if your skin is fragile or bruises easily as I will need to adapt the amount of cupping I employ so as to not cause undue damage to your tissue.
When do I not use cupping?
Honestly, I don't use cups very often. That is largely due to the need for more oil when using cups, to help them glide across the skin. In my practice, I usually use a lubricant that is not very oily because I don't want to just glide around the surface of your tissues. Rather, I like to be able to slowly sink in, so I can encourage change in the pliability of your tissues. Because of this incompatibility in lubricant usage, I've found myself simply leaving the cups out of my practice much of the time. Furthermore, although cups can do what fingers cannot, there is no tool as capable as the human hand. I spend so much time honing the use of my hands, I find it hard to trade time I could use listening to your tissue through my fingers for time using silicone massage cups.
Cupping is fun!
If cupping sounds like something you would like to try, or if you already love it, let me know at your next appointment. Cups are a way to change up your massage and provide more variety to how we mobilize your tissues. I'm always happy to add them to any session.