When Michael Phelps competed in historic fashion in the Rio 2016 Olympics, people were talking. The discussion was not just about how his five gold and one silver medal made him the most successful athlete for four Olympics in a row. Media coverage and watercooler conversations often centered around those round bruises he had on his shoulders and back. Those purple marks were telltale signs that he had received cupping treatments.
This “new” therapy, soon adopted by many other athletes, really wasn’t so new after all. The genesis of cupping therapy is debated, but it has been documented in both early Egyptian and Chinese medical practices.
At ProFysio Physical Therapy, cupping therapy is only one of many treatment options we utilize to help our patients return to an active, pain-free lifestyle.
Conditions Relieved by Cupping
We have seen in our practice how cupping can help a number of conditions by reducing pain. Reducing pain and returning our patients to a more mobile life is the cornerstone of our mission.
Cupping may help ease the symptoms of temporary and chronic issues such as:
- Neck Pain
- Knee Pain
- Back Pain
- Foot and Ankle Pain
- Shoulder Impingement and Tendonitis
- Joint Stiffness
Every patient is different, and the degree of relief can vary, but cupping is an excellent non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical method that benefits many pain sufferers. Cupping can also complement other treatments, such as physical therapy and sports physical therapy.
How Cupping Works
There are several different types of cups and cupping methodologies used by practitioners such as physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and others. In general, cupping can be thought of as the opposite of massage. While massage utilizes a downward pressure on skin, fascia, and muscles, cupping is a lifting, upward pull created by suction.
At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we use silicone cups to create the suction and stretch the tissue. The suction increases blood flow to the area, which can reduce inflammation and promote cellular repair. Cupping’s stretching of the tissues by separating fascial layers can also relieve tightness and tension and enhance range of motion and strength. Cups can remain stationary or be moved around the affected area.
What to Expect During and After Cupping
Many people ask if the treatment hurts. The short answer is no, but it can be uncomfortable for some. The suction can feel tight at first but then the sensation usually passes. The therapist will continually check in to assess any discomfort the patient feels. The bruises that sometimes appear are caused by blood being brought up to the skin. The marks last from a few hours to several days. Some patients may notice a gradual decrease in the amount of bruising in subsequent treatments.
Like in massage, cupping patients can experience lightheadedness or dizziness during and shortly after the treatment.
Cupping therapy isn’t recommended for everyone and all complaints. Cupping should not be done on broken bones, open wounds, skin ulcers, or sunburn. Seniors with fragile skin and those with bleeding disorders are generally not candidates. Certain medications are also contraindications.
The health professionals at ProFysio Physical Therapy can answer your questions about cupping and whether it is appropriate as part of your treatment plan.
Get Your Life Back in Motion
Whether you are dealing with chronic pain, rehabbing an acute condition, or an athlete wanting to improve performance, cupping might be an amazing addition to your program. Come to the skilled and trained specialists at ProFysio Physical Therapy to make sure cupping is right for you and is administered correctly. Improper cupping can damage tissue and worsen the problem.
Request a free consultation to discuss cupping and our other available treatments by calling (732) 812-5200 or using our online form. We have four convenient locations: Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Edison, and Old Bridge. Cupping is currently available at East Brunswick and Old Bridge.