Counter-strain Strategy in Massage – The Cupping Method

By Akari Yokokawa, RMT/CDT

Are you a believer of “the deeper, the better” myth about the pressure that is given during the massage? Has it been really, truly, honestly helping to relief your symptoms? Hope you are not the one who ends up asking for more pressure, clenching the jaws, sweating, holding breaths and tensing up more than before the massage.

If the pressure myth is not working for you, or the massage hasn’t been helping, why don’t you try less pressure!

Yes, there is a way to do that- The Cupping Method.

Cupping is done with cups made of glass, plastic, rubber, or silicone. The therapist applies appropriate negative pressure (sucking) in the cups and pulls/draws/stretches the structure underneath the cups according to your condition and comfort level. The cups can be left on the body for a certain period of time (5-10min) as a stationary technique, or kept moving over the body. This releases adhesions and breaks down scar tissues, draws the stagnant toxins and blood/lymph to the surface. Some people can have marks ranging in colours from red to purple. This is not a bruise but it is stagnant substances that have been sitting inside of your body! The marks often subside in a few days to weeks depending on the person.   There is a common misconception that the mark is bad, but it is better to bring it to the surface and get drained than keeping it inside. Any cupping technique always ends with flushing technique to drain these pulled out toxins and stagnant blood back into your system so that your liver and kidneys can break it down and flush it off.

Local tight structure(s) can cause imbalance in your body just like you wear a sweater that is shrunk or one part is tangled. Cupping will stretch or un-tangle it so you can regain balance and move freely. This can be done much easier and efficiently with cupping than traditional massage techniques.

What benefit is there with cupping?

Any tightness (muscles/joints/fasciae etc)- cupping pulls and stretches the structure that is causing tightness to your body and gives more room for muscles to move and increases blood flow- muscles can breathe better and joints can move more! ie.. tennis elbow, frozen shoulders, tight hip and sciatica to name a few.

Abdominal discomfort/digestive issues– cupping increases blood flow to the organs, release adhesions/scars, re-aligns their position, overall great for better digestive functions and detox!

Face– cupping creates increased blood and lymph flow, provides bright look and lifts skin, and prepares the skin to absorb skin care products. It is done with less suction so there will be no marks or redness after treatment and there is no down time.

Cellulite– cupping breaks down collagen fibers that create ‘bumpy’ look and evens out the skin and increase micro-circulation to the area, thus reduces cellulite with no down time.