As a Manual Physical Therapist, I am constantly thinking about how to use my body mechanics in the most productive way for the treatment of my clients. This is also to ensure I have longevity in a career I love, and that my body can withstand the often heavy workload that is placed upon it by a physically demanding job. This has driven me to constantly update my techniques and search for tools that alleviate pain and relieve muscle tension in the most effective way.
Cupping originated thousands of years ago, and is one of the oldest forms of manual therapy (I’m not going to take you through its history – the internet is your library if you’re interested!). By placing a glass or a plastic cup onto the skin, the therapist creates a vacuum in the cup which draws the skin, muscle, and fascia up into the cup. This vacuum can be created with either a hand suction pump or a burning cotton wool ball. The latter is becoming less common in modern therapy due to the relative lack of control on the suction.
In Western medicine, Cupping is used as a direct clinical application. The therapist notes an area of restriction and applies the suction directly onto it to affect change. This is different to traditional Eastern methods which rely on affecting change in the line of meridians or “Qi” throughout the body. Used in conjunction with other massage treatments, Cupping is a useful tool to add into the treatment mix as it provides a different sensation and effectiveness, and thereby improving the overall results.