Cupping can sometimes be described as a “tissue distraction release” technique. During the cupping process, the cups are glided across different areas of the body in order to lift and separate tissue.
This works to enhance the release of the interfaces between the neural tissues, fascia, skin, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It relaxes muscles, releases trigger points, improves lymphatic flow, increases local circulation, and releases scar tissue adhesion.
Evidence supports cupping as an effective treatment method for several conditions, such as chronic neck pain, low back pain, and fibromyalgia.
There are three forms of cupping techniques: longitudinal, cross-fiber, and circular. The most common form is longitudinal, where the cup is glided longitudinally across the muscle fibers.
Cross fiber is used when it is believed that the tissue is scarred. Circular is typically used at the end of the session, in order to ensure that all areas were covered.
It is no secret that cupping is a common and popular practice among athletes. In fact, several athletes from the 2016 Rio Olympics used cupping.
A running patient with over a year history of the iliotibial band (ITB) pain reported instant relief following a three-minute session of cupping. The technique was repeated a week later.
Following only two cupping sessions, he was symptom-free and returned to his usual running routine.