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What is Dry Cupping Therapy?

By Dawn Morse Msc

Cupping therapy is an ancient form alternative therapy which dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and middle Eastern cultures.

During cupping therapy therapists apply glass, bamboo or silicone cups to the skin for a few minutes to create suction.
The application of cups can be used to treat a variety of conditions such as:

  • muscle pain and tension,
  • Reduced joint movement,
  • headaches,
  • Back pain and sciatica,
  • stress and anxiety.

Forms of Cupping Therapy:

There are two forms of cupping therapy which includes, Wet Cupping and Dry Cupping. During Wet Cupping, the skin is slit slightly and the cup is placed over the area in order to bleed the area.
During Dry Cupping, the cups are placed over several areas to create a vacuum which lifts the soft tissue and creates an upward stretch within the muscle and associated fascia. This vacuum lift helps to increase in blood flow and induces a stretch effect, which results in a reduction in muscle tension and associated pain.
During Dry Cupping therapy, cups can either be left in a static position or moved to provide a deep tissue massage effect. Both the static movement applications of cupping therapy complement other therapy techniques such as Sports and Deep Tissue Massage, Dry Needling and Acupuncture.
Dry cupping works well in conjunction with traditional sports and deep tissue massage, as the lifting effect provided from the cups works synergistically with the downward pressure application of manual massage.

Therapists point of view:
From a therapist’s point of view including cupping therapy within a massage treatment, can reduce the pressure placed on their hands and wrists and can help the therapist to utilise their time more efficiently during treatment.
For instance, cups are often used in one area to pre-reduce muscle tension and increase blood flow, whilst a second area is being treated with manual massage techniques. The cups can then be removed or paced in a different area, and manual massage techniques can then be applied to the pre-cupped region.

How does Dry Cupping work? 
Initially the vacuum application of the cup pulls blood into an area. This leads to the effected tissue becoming saturated with fresh blood. This saturation can often leave a circular mark, which is consistent with a hicky or love bite mark. However, this usually disappears after a day or so and happens to a lesser extent on subsequent treatments.
Neovascularisation (new blood vessel formation), occurs in response to blood being draw into the tissue. This leads to an increase in nutrient and oxygen content within the localised area.
Due to the vacuum effect, the soft tissue often experiences micro-trauma and separation between the tissue layers. The body responds to this micro-trauma by stimulating an inflammatory response, which is the natural process of healing. During this stage, the body releases chemicals such as white blood cells, platelets and fibroblasts to initiate healing.
Finally, the stretch that is produced in the soft tissue and fascia leads to a relaxation effect within the muscle, which results improved range of motion and performance.

In summary, Dry Cupping helps aid soft tissue injuries and reduce pain or discomfort by:

  • Increasing localised circulation,
  • Increasing oxygenation and nutrient content within the tissue,
  • Removing stagnant blood and waste products,
  • Re-initiating the healing process to micro-trauma,
  • Stretches fascia and connective tissue, which leads to a relaxation response.
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At Core Elements we provide Dry Cupping Therapy treatment at our Wiltshire based Clinic. To find out more about the treatment offered Click Here.
We also provided Accredited Courses in Myofascial Dry Cupping Therapy. To find out more about our Swindon, Wiltshire based training courses and Live Online Courses please Click Here.

By Dawn Morse MSc – Director or Core Elements Training