What is Cupping?

By Monica Hallman, PTA, Clinical Director of Barto, and Lisa Fogelman, DPT, Clinical Director of Skippack

Cupping is based on traditional, century-old, Asian medicine that allows one to grip and elevate skin and fascia with use of suction cups, a type of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization. This allows for the release of scar tissue/fascial adhesions (connective tissue overlying muscle), managing trigger points, boost circulation, alleviate pain, and improve muscle and joint mobility.

Cupping begins with the fascia. Fascia is connective tissue, under the skin, that surrounds, connects, and gives strength to all structures of the human body. There are many different reasons to causing fascial adhesions, including: muscle strains, ligament sprains, repetitive motions creating muscle trigger points or increased muscle tightness, poor posturing, improper workstation setup/ergonomics, nerve compression, and a sedentary lifestyle, to name a few.

Cups are applied in a certain manner to restore flow and balance to muscles. This allows for an inter-relationship of different areas of the body to achieve more energy and function, thus restoring Qi flow and balance for overall general health. We, at Mishock PT, use a mechanical cupping technique utilizing plastic cups with a handheld pneumatic pump. This allows us to adjust the degree of suction depending on the goals of muscle function for each patient. We can then use this pressure to gently lift the tissue (skin and fascia) to increase blood and lymph circulation, stimulate energy to that tissue, and improve tissue mobility/stretching for limited range of motion of a joint.

A normal reaction to cupping is dark purple or red circular marks over the cupped skin, some fullness, and warmth. Cupping is a great benefit of physical therapy in conjunction with exercise, education, and other modalities. There are contraindications for use on cupping with some patients. Please ask a therapist if you are a candidate for cupping techniques.

Recently, two of our clinicians have finished coursework in cupping, to be used during physical therapy. Monica Hallman, PTA, Clinical Director of our Barto location on Route 100, and Lisa Fogelman, DPT, Director of our Skippack clinic. John Mishock, PT, DPT, DC, and practice owner, has also taken this course, and sees patients at the Spring Valley YMCA in Limerick. If you are in need of physical therapy and/or would like more information, please call any of our office locations.

We can help!
Reduce pain and increase function, call for a FREE Phone Consultation at 610-327-2600. Email your questions to mishockpt@comcast.net. Visit our website to read more physical therapy related articles, learn more about our treatment philosophy, our physical therapy staff at www.mishock.wpengine.com.

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