What if you could have the benefits of deep tissue massage without the deep pressure? Cupping massage offers that alternative.
Standard deep massage uses deep pressure to help break up and get rid of scar tissue formation from previous injuries and adhesions (stuck together tissue) from the stresses of day to day living. On the other hand, cupping massage uses suction and negative pressure to affect the deeper muscles.
How Cupping Works
Modern cupping massage grew out of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice of cupping therapy. In traditional cupping therapy, the TCM practitioner places a flare inside a glass, pottery, or bamboo sheets cup. The flare draws the oxygen out of the cup, creating a vacuum, and the practitioner quickly places the open end of the cup on your body.
The vacuum in the cup creates a close off on your skin that has a suction and cupping massager negative pressure that lifting your skin and underlying tissue. This stimulation causes blood to rush to the area and improves qi flow. Typically, TCM practitioners leave the glasses in one place (stationary cupping) for around ten minutes, although practitioners do sometimes move the glasses (running cupping) in a massage fashion.
Modern Deep Tissue Cupping Massage
A principal difference between traditional and massage cupping is that a massage practitioner uses the glasses to perform massage strokes, such as scooping the edge of the cup over a muscle, vigorous sectors, or long strokes along the muscles. Before placing glasses on your skin, the massage practitioner applies oil to your skin to make moving them easier and smoother.
Some massage practitioners use the technique already described (called fire cupping). Another, newer, technique uses a manual vacuum set. The practitioner places a cup on your body and uses an attached pump to remove the air.
In Eastern terms, the suction and negative pressure of deep tissue cupping massage breaks up local qi stagnation. In Western terms, you can think of qi stagnation as poor blood flow or poor movement of lymphatic fluid. The potential benefits of cupping massage include:
Relaxes tight muscles
Drains excess fluids and toxins by opening lymphatic path ways
Loosens adhesions and scar tissue formation by lifting connective tissue
Cupping massage causes the skin to become red, which indicates that blood is coming to the surface. The suction draws the skin up into the cup, causing the surface blood vessels to expand. This suction can cause staining, because a small amount of blood may trickle from peripheral capillaries. The staining usually dies out within a few days.
As with all sorts of massage, this type of massage is not for everyone, so make sure your massage practitioner understands all your medical ailments. Conditions which is why massage cupping is inappropriate include painful skin, high a fever, convulsions or cramping pains, and easy blood loss. Also, cupping is not appropriate on the abdominal area or lower back of expecting mothers.