Myofascial Decompression / Cupping

What Is Myofascial Decompression?

Myofascial decompression or cupping is a therapy that helps treat musculoskeletal disorders by using suction to create negative pressure underneath the cup. Originally fire was used to create the suction, but more recently a simple pump is used. The negative pressure helps to decompress the area by lifting the skin and the layer of tissue underneath the skin, the fascia, up into the cup. This creates space for the underlying tight muscle to lay down and relax. Cupping also helps bring blood flow to the area in need. Blood carries important nutrients which help with tissue healing. At Spring forward we use myofascial decompression to address compensatory movement patterns. This is done by adding movement with treatment. Movement can be in the form of sliding the cups over the necessary tissue or leaving the cups static while moving body parts.

How Do You Prepare For Cupping?

In order to prepare for myofascial decompression, make sure the affected area you would like treated can be easily exposed by bringing appropropriate clothing. This may include shorts for the lower half and a sports bra for the upper body. Be prepared to see some bruising on your skin as this is common since cupping facilitates blood flow. If you have an event coming up or do not want bruises on your skin let your physical therapist know ahead of time.

Why Is Cupping Done?

Myofascial Decompression_CuppingMyofascial decompression is performed to treat musculoskeletal disorders and to correct movement patterns that may cause pain or tightness. It is used to address any myofascial or soft tissue dysfunction or restriction, break up scar tissue adhesions, reduce scar tissue formation, increase blood flow to healing areas and to release trigger points

What Can You Expect During Myofascial Decompression?

During myofascial decompression your therapist will most likely have you lie on your back, stomach or side depending on the area being treated. Sometimes people experience a “pinching” when the cups are first placed on the body. Most describe this as a strong pressure.The pressure can always be adjusted so if it feels too tight let your therapist know. Depending on the goal of treatment your therapist may have you move into certain positions or perform certain exercises with the cups on. Lotion is used underneath the cups to facilitate smooth movement and minimize any discomfort.

What Is The Followup And Recovery Like For Myofascial Decompression?

After treatment, you may have some bruising on your skin. The severity of these bruises range from light pink to purple. The color of the bruises depends on how tight the underlying tissue is and how long the cups are left on the skin. You also may feel some soreness, especially over the darker bruises. Soreness can last up to 24 hours but the bruises may last up to a week. Icing is not recommended for up to an hour after as cold constricts blood vessels, the opposite of what cupping is intended to do.

What Are The Potential Costs?

At Spring Forward Physical Therapy, myofascial decompression is part of your physical therapy session and comes at no extra cost.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Cupping?

Myofascial decompression should not be conducted over any open wound, active cancer, swollen areas, previous bruises or immediately post surgery.

Let your physical therapist know if you have any of the following conditions beforehand as precautionary measure may take place:

  • Anemia
  • Cardiac conditions/High blood pressure
  • Sensitive skin
  • Current blood clot or history of blood clots
  • Currently taking blood thinner medication
  • Fever
  • Pregnancy

Are There Other Related Treatments?

Myofascial decompression is used in conjunction with other physical therapy techniques such as myofascial release, soft tissue mobilization, neuro re-education and therapeutic exercise. Exercises can be performed with the cups in place or immediately after to facilitate strengthening and re-education of muscles.

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