Dynamic Self-Cupping

“What if I do it wrong?” clients ask as soon as I put a cup in their hands. “Mmm… how good is your common sense?” I reply, and the tension in their shoulders goes away.

Cupping therapy was practiced in ancient Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East and North America. At that time, healers cupped as a means to heal body and spirit. The cups were built from rigid materials such as glass or bamboo and heat was used to create the negative pressure or suction. Today, Massage therapists, Physiotherapists and many other health practitioners utilize cupping techniques to improve healing and wellbeing, and modern materials like silicone allow the therapists to create the suction by squeezing the cups without having to use manual pumping, electrical suction or fire.

Cupping evolved throughout thousands of years and many different techniques were developed around the globe, some of them involving magnets, herbs, needles or even bleeding. Hard to believe, but this last ancient technique is still used in some traditional medicines. Fortunately, there are less invasive and much safer modalities that are performed by many therapists, and some of them can even be performed by clients, on their own.

Dynamic self-cupping and common sense, a good pair.

Soft to medium dynamic cupping with silicone cups is an easier and safer modality that clients can perform on their own. There is good reason for therapists to instruct their clients on how to do self-cupping. The benefits are numerous and can be experienced since the first session. On average, a short 30 minute session is enough to give clients instruction on methods and precautions. It is extremely important to take in count their specific health conditions and injuries, adapting the cupping instruction to the patient’s needs.

“What if I do it wrong?” clients ask as soon as I put a cup in their hands. “Mmm… how good is your common sense?” I reply and the tension in their shoulders goes away. I totally understand the fear of doing something new and wondering how bad we can mess it up. It is my role to teach clients how to use the cups and which areas of the body are to be cupped or not, depending on specific condition or injuries. Once you’ve learned that, use common sense as your guide!

Common sense will stop you from cupping over an open wound, a lesion, varicose veins or a burnt, infected or inflamed area of your skin. Those are some of the contraindications to cupping. Yes, I know, that makes sense, right? Common sense will also stop you from cupping your belly button, eyes, ears, and other parts of the body that shouldn’t be cupped! Seriously, you’re an adult now. As well, it should prevent you from leaving the cups at the same place until the skin turns purple, black or until you get blisters. Self-cupping is a very effective tool in your arsenal of self-care. Use it wisely. Last but not least, in case cardiovascular or any systemic condition exists, the approval of your physician is important.

It doesn’t take more than seconds for our clients to find that self-cupping is either awesome (approximately 85%) or it feels like an alien sucking their skin (odd, only female clients in my experience). As they learn how to adjust the suction to their comfort they realize that cupping doesn’t have to leave marks on the skin, nor it has to be self-inflicted pain. They can enjoy the benefits of cupping at home before going to bed, at the gym’s shower after working out, under water in a warm bath (no need to use oil or lotion), during their break at the office, or right before their yoga classes or stretching sessions.

Silicon cups are designed to be packed one inside the other and take very little space. For clients working long hours at the computer I suggest leaving a small cup in a desk drawer and use it to release the back of the neck and forearm flexors and extensors when they have a little break. That feels great!

Benefits of self-cupping

Some of the well known benefits of treating the myofascial structures with soft to medium dynamic self-cupping are, but not restricted to:

  • Increased local blood flow

  • Braking myofascial adhesions

  • Releasing and relaxing hypertonic muscles

  • Reducing pain due to hypertonicity

  • Increased healing

However, perhaps the most important benefit is empowering our clients, getting them to realize they can do lots to improve their own condition.

Self-cupping is more than just releasing muscles and breaking adhesions, it is also about looking at ourselves from a different perspective. It is about learning to listen to our bodies and acting upon those subtle messages in a little more anatomical and therapeutic way, muscle by muscle, adhesion by adhesion. It is about taking responsibility and being proud of the results, but more so, it’s about taking a few minutes to forget about what surrounds us and focus on this unique and miraculous body that hosts our soul. Such a delight!