Cupping Therapy for Shoulder and Neck Pain

Did you know that close to 65% Americans between the age of 18 and 35 experience chronic neck and shoulder pain? If you were under the impression that only older people have this problem, think again because neck and shoulder pain is more common that you think. And, cupping therapy may well be one of the most effective healing modalities that can help you with the condition.

Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain

Cupping Therapy for Shoulder and Neck Pain

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Neck and shoulder pain can result from many factors, only one of which is an injury that hasn’t healed despite your taking care of it. While arthritis and meningitis are medical causes, other factors that can contribute to the condition include a strain, or sprain. You can also have neck and shoulder pain because of poor posture or spending long hours at a desk job without moving and changing your position. If you accidentally slept for too long in an awkward pose or made a sudden move with your neck, you might have severe pain. As an athlete, if you play a sport that involves the use of your shoulder muscles, you can develop chronic pain. Do keep in mind that sometimes, headaches and migraines can also result from neck pain.

The Science Behind Why Cupping can Help

Neck and shoulder pain is a manifestation of the stretched myofascial tissues in the area. When cupping is performed, it lifts the skin from the myofascial network by creating a vacuum. As blood rushes to fill the empty space, it brings with it fresh nutrients and oxygen. This infusion works to heal the affected area by clearing away the knots and constrictions in the muscles. In addition to blood, the area also receives more lymph. Knots and stiffness can also be caused by a buildup of toxins, dead cells, and other debris. The lymph works to clear the toxins and cleanse it so that healing is further promoted.

The Philosophy Behind the Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy

While science has a perfectly valid explanation of how cupping therapy works, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) explains it in a slightly different way. TCM believes in the free flow of life energy inside the meridians of the body. As long as the energy flow remains unobstructed, the person remains healthy, but any snags in this flow can cause ailments and illnesses. For this reason, TCM aims to release the blockages and thus heal the affected tissues after an injury.

Science says that healed tissues receive a lower amount of blood supply. That’s because the scars that form after an injury or strain are tougher than the original tissues. Cupping therapy can help restore the blood supply to the affected area so that healing is stimulated again. For this reason, the modality can work on chronic pain that may result from old injuries and strains also.

How Cupping Therapy is Performed

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As the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports, cupping must be performed on the specific acupuncture points that are the focal points of the injured tissues. A certified therapist is trained in identifying these trigger points and knows how to locate them. They are the LI 15, SI 15, and GB 21 of the soft tissues on the neck and shoulders.

Each cupping session lasts for around 20 to 30 minutes. You will be asked to sit in a chair with your feet resting on the ground with the neck and shoulders exposed. Alternatively, you might be asked to lie on the therapist’s table face down. Cups will be placed on the acupuncture points after which suction is caused by way of a pump or any other technique. After a few minutes, the cups are removed. This technique is dry cupping.

Depending on the severity of the pain and your comfort levels, your therapist might offer to use wet cupping or massage cupping. Some therapists may also suggest a combination of cupping therapy with acupuncture for better pain relief. You can rest assured that all precautions will be taken to maintain hygienic, sterile conditions so that there is no possibility of side effects and infections.

Again, depending on how you respond to the treatment, your therapist can suggest that you come back for 4 to 6 follow-up sessions taken once a week. You’re likely to notice a few red marks and bruises but they are not painful to the touch and clear away within a few days.

With each progressive session, patients typically talk about how the stiffness and pain eases, and they find that movement is much easier. You can rely on cupping therapy as a non-invasive, safe modality to help you get relief from neck and shoulder pain. Though, you must inform your medical practitioner about the therapy you’re getting so he can plan your other medications and treatment accordingly.

References:
“Neck Pain and Back Pain Relief with Cupping” AcuHealth. n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
Chi, Lee-Mei, Lin, Li-Mei, et al. “The Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy on Relieving Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 17 Mar. 2016. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
Mukherjee, Bipasha. “Top 6 Acupressure Points for Treating Neck and Shoulder Pain.” Modern Reflexology. n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

Relieve Stress with Cupping Therapy

Stress and stress relief is a major cause for worry for people of all ages and walks of life. For this reason, looking for solutions for the problem is one of the most talked about issues today. Cupping therapy is a potentially safe, non-invasive treatment that can help you release the stress and avoid the potential medical and psychological ailments that accompany stress. But, why is cupping effective? And, how can it help you? Read ahead to understand the therapy.

Understanding How Stress is Caused

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Medifit Biologicals

Before talking about the options for stress relief, it is important to understand how the pressure is caused? Nature programmed humans to deal with the adverse conditions of a very hostile world. They had to forage for food and deal with wild animals and other dangers. Accordingly, we evolved into having the rush of adrenalin and cortisol when faced with a dangerous situation. Adrenalin helped humans with a heightened metabolism by boosting blood circulation, pain tolerance, and glucose levels in the blood so they could escape from the situation. Non-essential functions like digestion, reproduction, immunity, and growth would take a backseat until the danger passed.

In modern times, we live in a world that is not hostile. However, the stress comes from other sources such as a challenging presentation, difference of opinion with someone that could turn into an argument, change of life situation, job worries, and other such issues. Constant stress causes the levels of adrenalin and cortisol to remain high in the blood and this leads to several health and mental complications. By getting cupping therapy, you can help your body relax and step out of the consistent “flight or fight” mode. The stress relief provided by the treatment can help to avoid or heal from the problems caused by the pressure.

Why Cupping Helps Release Stress

Cupping therapy can help you release the stress because of the calm and serene ambience of the therapist’s clinic. Further, as the healer works to place cups on your body and cause suction, you must lie completely still. Typically, cupping sessions may take from 10 to 20 minutes and this time is sufficient to blank the mind and get rid of negative thoughts that might be troubling you.

Another important factor is that cupping promotes the flow of blood in the body. As the muscles and tissues are flooded with healing nutrients and fresh oxygen, they relax completely. The relaxation effect is also extended to the nervous system that seems to get sedated with cupping. When you go into the stress mode, your muscles react by going into spasm and stiffening. For this reason, you sense the tension in your neck, shoulders, and back. Cupping can help release this tension so you feel the stress melting away. In fact, it is not uncommon for patients to fall into a deep slumber during the session.

In addition to dry cupping, therapists may also choose to use massage cupping. After creating suction, she may move the cup over the body in gentle movements by way of reverse massage. The massage-like sensations also work to release stress and bring calm to the patient similar to when you take deep tissue or trigger point massage therapy.

The Science Behind Cupping Therapy for Stress Relief

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While the very session of cupping therapy can help you with the stress you’re feeling, the mechanism is explained by the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Trained cupping therapists know how to identify the particular points on the back that relate to the emotional system. These acupuncture points lie on the Outer Bladder Line or the bladder meridian. This straight line skims the shoulder blade between the blade and the spine and runs down the back up to the pelvis.

By placing cups on this line and causing suction, the therapist can stimulate the proper functioning of the emotional state so that you can balance the disparity in your feelings to restore the sense of calm. TCM also believes that the buildup of toxins in the body closely correlate to negative feelings and emotions. Cupping can cause the muscles to release the toxins so that the circulating lymph can carry them away for natural elimination from the body. Once the toxins are removed, you’ll also sense relief from the stress-causing negative emotions.

This philosophy can clearly explain why many patients seem to get emotional during and after the session with crying spells from sheer relief and serenity.

Cupping therapy can prove to be highly effective in helping you deal with stress and also the accompanying physical and mental projections. These conditions can include myofascial pain, anxiety, depression, skin conditions, and various other problems. Consult a certified cupping therapist who can help you with the complete information about how this healing modality works.

References:
Kiefer, David. MD. “Cupping Therapy.” WebMD. 10 Aug. 2016. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
Axe, Josh. Dr. “Cupping Therapy: Alternative Medicine for Pain, Immunity & Digestion.” Dr. Axe. Food is Medicine. n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
Axe, Josh. Dr. “10 Ways Chronic Stress is Killing Your Quality of Life.” Dr. Axe. Food is Medicine. n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
Bright, Sierra. “9 Reasons Everyone Should Try Cupping Therapy” Natural Living Ideas. 8 Aug. 2016. Web. 26 mar. 2017.
Marcie. “Your journey to better health.” Stepping Stone Acupuncture and Wellness. 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Is Cupping Therapy Safe

In case you’ve been considering getting cupping therapy for a medical or aesthetic issue, one of the first concerns you’ll likely have is the safety factor. You’ll want to know about any possible side effects and if you can develop complications after getting the treatment. Rest assured that this healing modality is absolutely safe to use when taken from a certified practitioner. Such therapists will take all the necessary precautions including checking with you for contraindications and maintaining the most sterile of conditions for providing therapy.

You can choose to perform dry cupping therapy on yourself using simple tools that are not likely to cause any side effects or after effects. Typically, such sets also come with an instruction booklet that can guide you on the best points to place the cups.

Contraindications for Cupping Therapy

While cupping therapy is very safe, your therapist may choose not to give you treatment under certain conditions. When you come in for a consultation, your therapist will ask you questions to rule out medical issues such as:

  • Pregnancy and menstruation
  • Skin conditions like dermatoses, skin allergies, injuries, and lesions
  • Conditions of uncontrolled bleeding like in hemophilia, leukemia, and blood spots on the skin caused by allergies
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease or failure
  • Hernia
  • Slipped disc
  • Cancer
  • Varicose veins, among others

Getting Dry Cupping

Cupping therapy involves placing cups in the skin at strategic points according to the therapist’s knowledge of the meridians of the body. By causing suction in the cups, the healer can promote the flow of blood to the affected site so that repair and regeneration of the tissues is stimulated. Originally, therapists would place a burning object in the cup to heat it and then remove it quickly before placing the cups on the body. This technique could potentially cause burns on the skin.

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However, in present times, healers use rubber or medical grade silicone cups. The transparent silicone cups help in more ways than one. Here’s why:

  • Silicone allows the therapist to monitor the condition of the skin during the session.
  • The flexible nature of the cups makes it possible to give massage cupping if needed.
  • It is also possible to squeeze the cups to create vacuum in smaller sections like on the forehead and cheeks to provide therapy.
  • Sterilizing silicone is also a lot easier and more effective.

To create vacuum in the cup, modern day healers may opt to use cupping sets that have a pump attached to the bottom. After placing the cups on the treatment area, the practitioner can cause suction by pumping out the air thus, making the treatment absolutely safe.

Getting Wet Cupping

Wet cupping is a variation of cupping therapy that involves making minute cuts in the skin to allow the toxins and poisons in the blood to exit the body. If you opt for wet cupping, your therapist will place the suctioned cups for a few minutes until the skin rises in it and redness starts to appear. In some cases, blisters might also appear. With your go-ahead, she will prick the blisters or use a scalpel to make cuts. Some healers also choose to scrape the skin a little. Next, a fresh cup is placed on the same area and suction is caused so that the toxins are removed.

To protect you from possible infections, your therapist will take care to use only sterilized materials along with masks and gloves. Later, the treated area is carefully cleaned and dressed with antiseptic ointment and bandages. Typically, the wounds heal within a maximum of 10 days leaving behind no scars.

Getting Cupping with Acupuncture

Some therapists may also opt to combine acupuncture with cupping therapy. Both healing modalities are based on the Chinese principles of meridians and the life energy or “qi” that flows through them. To begin with, the healer inserts acupuncture needles with precision in the affected area. Next, he places cups on the area with the needles and causes suction. The dual effects of the stimulation with needles and suction can make the treatment more effective.

To make sure that there is no possibility of skin infections, your therapist will use only new and sterile needles along with sterilized cups to provide the therapy.

After Effects of Cupping Therapy

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International Cupping Therapy Association

During the cupping session, you’re very likely to notice some amount of stretching and tightness of the skin in the treatment area. Skin infections after a cupping session are very rare, but you can expect to have some after effects. Depending on the severity of your medical condition, your skin may develop bruises. If you have the tendency to bruise easily, you might notice darker marks. To manage the redness, your therapist may choose to apply ice on the area. In most cases, the marks disappear within a few days.

Working with a Trained Therapist

When looking for a healer who can perform therapy on you, make sure that he or she has extensive experience, necessary certification, and follows the mandatory guidelines laid down by the licensing authorities. Ask questions for gathering complete information about the procedure before you sign up. Looking for testimonials of past patients that have successfully taken the therapy is another smart move.

References:
Kiefer, David. MD. “Cupping Therapy.” WebMD. 10 Aug. 2016. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
Axe, Josh. Dr. “Cupping Therapy: Alternative Medicine for Pain, Immunity & Digestion.” Dr. Axe Food is Medicine. n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
“Contraindications for Cupping.” International Cupping Therapy Association. n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.
Marcin, Ashley. “What Is Cupping Therapy?” HealthLine. 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.

Cupping Therapy vs Acupuncture – Which Modality Should You Choose

In recent times, interest in alternative and complementary forms of healing and therapies are gaining much tempo. As the Mayo Clinic reports, around 40% of Americans have opted for such techniques at some time in their lives. If you’ve also been considering getting cupping therapy or acupuncture, you probably have a lot of questions about them. You’ll want to know which of the modalities is more effective to give you the results you’re looking for. Let’s begin by understanding the principle on which the therapies are based and how they work on your body.

The Philosophy Behind Cupping Therapy and Acupuncture

Cupping Therapy vs Acupuncture

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Both cupping therapy and acupuncture have their origins in ancient China. Surprisingly, acupuncture was developed around 8,000 years ago and has its foundations in Dadaist theisms. Cupping therapy, on the other hand, came to be used around 3,000 years ago. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the philosophy that the body has natural energy flowing through it. The meridians that run through the body are the channels that direct the free flow of the energy. As long as this energy, also called, “qi” or “chi” keeps moving, you feel healthy. But, illnesses and injuries can create obstructions in the flow. As a result, you feel ill, mentally and physically.

How Acupuncture and Cupping Therapy Work

Acupuncture and cupping therapy work to remove the obstructions so that so that the energy continues to flow. In this way, these therapies heal you. By inserting needles into the specific points of obstruction during acupuncture, the therapist seeks to attract the flow of blood. This blood flow brings with it fresh nutrients and oxygen that repair the illness and damage in the tissues. A boost in the flow of lymph works to carry away the toxins, cell debris, and other waste. And, effectively cleanses the area.

On the other hand, cupping creates suction on the skin above the damaged tissues. The suction also draws blood to the area so that it heals and the waste is removed. Essentially the principle behind both therapies is very similar, namely, inducing inflammation to promote healing. And, both, cupping therapy and acupuncture sessions typically last for around 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Before suggesting the optimum modality that can help you with your medical issues, the therapist will assess your symptoms carefully. If needed, she might also recommend that you opt for a combination of both treatments.

How Cupping Therapy is Performed

cupping therapy with acupuncture

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To perform cupping therapy, the healer uses small cups that may be made of traditional materials like bamboo, wood, animal horns, or glass. Modern day cupping therapists may use medical grade silicone or glass so they can monitor the appearance of the skin during the therapy. Sterilizing these materials is also a lot more easier. Your healer may choose to heat the cups before placing them on the specific trigger points so that suction is created in the cups. Or, he may opt to use contemporary cupping kits that include a suction device attached to the bottom of the cup. The pumps can be used to remove the air and create suction in the inverted cup.

Types of Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy can be of different forms. Dry cupping only involves the creation of vacuum while massage cupping includes the application of essential oils on the skin prior to placing the cups. Once suction is created, the cups are moved over the skin by way of reverse massage therapy. Wet cupping is another method. After maintaining suction for a few minutes, the therapist may make tiny cuts on the skin with a sterile scalpel. Next, she places the cup back on the affected area. The vacuum causes a small amount of blood to be pulled from the skin into the cup. After removing the cup, she dresses the area with antiseptic ointment and sterile bandages so that it heals within a few days.

How Acupuncture is Performed

cupping therapy vs acupuncture

Silver Spring Acupuncture

To perform acupuncture, the therapist makes use of sterile needles that are extremely fine. Guided by his training and expert knowledge of the anatomy and meridians of your body, he places the needles in your skin at the precise points where the natural energy has stagnated. As blood rushes to the area, you feel a relaxation and release of stress. Typically, patients do not experience any pain since the needles are very thin and small. In rare cases, the patient may feel a dull ache that is not altogether unpleasant. If needed, the therapist may also deliver heat or light electrical impulses through the needles.

How Cupping Therapy and Acupuncture are Combined

Depending on your particular medical issues, your therapist could recommend that you opt for a combination of both modalities. To begin with, she places needles on the affected area. Next, she places inverted cups on the area and creates a vacuum. In this way, she can provide you with the dual benefits of both forms of healing. The strategically placed needle and the vacuum of the cups can work to promote blood flow and healing.

Medical Issues that Respond Well to the Treatment

Both cupping therapy and acupuncture can help you with many medical issues such as:

  • Respiratory issues like colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, and the flu
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Reducing pain arising from musculoskeletal issues and injuries
  • Improving digestion
  • Promoting skin health
  • Helps in the removal of toxins by boosting the functioning of the lymphatic system

Cupping therapy and acupuncture can work to complement each other and help you with the medical issues you have. You can also opt to take them individually for the benefits they can provide you. Of course, it is best to rely on the judgment of your expert therapist who can guide you best on the ideal mode of treatment.

References:
“Cupping Therapy and Acupuncture Treatment: How do they differ?” Aligned Modern Health. 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.
Axe. Josh. Dr. “Cupping Therapy vs. Acupuncture: How Are They Similar and Different?” The Complete Herbal Guide. 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.
Suvow, Scott. L.Ac. “The History of Acupuncture.” ACOS. n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

Top 7 Benefits of Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is a 3,000-year old healing modality that was developed by different cultures across the world. The earliest accounts of the practice of cupping therapy and its many benefits emerged from China though researchers are still unsure if travelers carried it to other countries from the point of origin. Called by different names, healers have used cupping to treat various ailments ranging from musculoskeletal, dermal, and digestive to psychological conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety. The therapy can also be used to treat physical illnesses that result from mental stress and anxiety.

Consider getting these Cupping Therapy sets to help you avail of the many benefits.

The most interesting feature of cupping is that you can use it in conjunction with other forms of healing to enhance their results. Though, science is not quite sure how the modality works, millions of people across the world have shown marked improvements after using the therapy. It is safe, non-invasive, and rarely has any side effects if taken from a well-trained, certified therapist. Here are the main categories of ailments that cupping therapy can help you with:

  1. Cupping for Relief From Pain

Relief from pain and discomfort is one of the main objectives why people opt for cupping therapy. The therapy can provide relief from pain resulting from various conditions like neck pain, back pain, rheumatism, migraines, and cancer. By getting cupping therapy, you might find that the pain is easing more effectively as compared to using analgesics and other medications.

Cupping targets deep tissues by creating suction and lifting the skin over the muscles because of which the blood vessels and capillaries expand. As the area receives a fresh infusion of blood, it is flooded with nutrients and oxygen that work to heal the damage and injuries. In addition, the blood carries away the accumulation of toxins, dead cells, and other debris that may be hampering healing and causing pain. As a result of better blood circulation, the tensed muscles and stiff tissues relax. Not only is the discomfort alleviated but the patients also sense relaxation that helps lower stress levels.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and other ancient healing modalities also believe in the flow of energy in the body. When this energy flow is obstructed by illnesses and injuries, the body responds with pain and stiffness. Cupping on the fleshy sections of the body such as the shoulder blades, lower back, neck, and groin can open the obstructions so that the energy flow is activated and healing stimulated. Modern day practitioners may choose to use cupping therapy along with acupressure, massage therapy, and heat therapy.

2. Cupping to Promote Relaxation

Cupping therapy gives you the same effects of a deep tissue massage but by way of reverse pressure. As your tensed muscles relax because of the improved blood flow, you’ll sense relief from the stress and anxiety. When the blocked energy in your body starts to flow more freely, you feel a deep sense of relaxation and well-being as the nervous system is sedated and calmed. Since each session of cupping therapy can take around 30 minutes, therapists also believe that the simple act of lying very still has a therapeutic effect.

3. Cupping to Promote Healing from Injuries

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Whenever your body suffers an injury, it reacts by flooding the body with blood that brings healing elements and components to the damaged tissues. As a result, you see inflammation and sense pain. Modern healing recommends medication and treatments that reduce the swelling and end up stopping the healing process before it is complete. Cupping works to cause inflammation in the tissues by drawing blood to the tissues and restarting the healing.

For this reason, athletes opt for the modality. It works to bring nutrients to their muscles and heals the micro tears that occur because of the rigorous training they undertake. Most important, it helps carry away the toxins released by the repairing of tissues. In this way, cupping heals the knots and adhesions in the tissues. Any kind of injuries including plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other musculoskeletal issues respond very well to cupping therapy.

4. Cupping for Clear, Flawless Skin

By improving blood circulation, cupping therapy can improve the appearance of the skin. That’s because the suction has the effect of promoting the rejuvenation of the layer of collagen and elastin under the skin. When this layer produces more cells and plumps up, the skin also looks and feels better. Any kind of skin conditions including diseases like herpes, eczema, the orange-peel effect caused by cellulite, and acne scars can all be healed with cupping therapy.

You can also use the modality to erase signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, creases, and folds of skin. Dermatologists may use the suction after applying soothing salves, essential oils, and lotions. That’s because cupping can help in the better absorption of the salves into the skin so that it is nourished and all dryness is repaired. It can also assist in the reduction of fluid build up in the skin so the puffiness is removed.

5. Cupping for Better Digestion

benefits of cupping therapy

Al Hijama / The Cupping Therapy

When cupping therapy is performed on the abdomen, it works to release the stress and stiffness in the muscles. As the tissues relax, better movement is induced in the working of the digestive system. Any issues you had such as chronic stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, fluid retention, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), loss of appetite, flatulence, and other gastrointestinal diseases can all be cured with the help of cupping therapy. Given that gastric disease is often linked to stress and anxiety, cupping therapy may be the perfect answer to the issues.

6. Cupping for Relief from Respiratory Issues

Cupping therapy is highly effective in helping you with respiratory issues such as colds, the flu, congestion, cough, buildup of phlegm, and pulmonary tuberculosis. When suction is performed on the chest, it has the effect of promoting blood flow and the draining of lymph fluid. For this reason, cupping can help you with asthma, seasonal allergies, and chest infections.

7. Cupping for Detoxification

As all medical practitioners will tell you, an accumulation of toxins in the body can cause many different ailments and illnesses. You can also become more susceptible to infections. Cupping therapy can help you by helping the toxins, dead cells, and other metabolic waste move to the lymphatic system so the body eliminates them naturally. To help the movement of waste out of your body, your therapist will likely recommend that you drink lots of water after a cupping session.

Cupping therapy can help you will many medical and cosmetic issues. And, the best positive is that even if you feel it is not effective, it is not likely to cause any adverse effects either. With millions of people swearing by the amazing benefits of the healing modality, you can try it and see for yourself. For a more in depth look at cupping therapy, check out our Cupping Benefits page.

References:
Richard, Brandon. “5 Benefits Of Cupping Therapy Everyone Should Know!” David Wolfe. n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Kiefer, David. MD. “Cupping Therapy” WebMD. 10 Aug. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Axe, Josh. Dr. “Cupping Therapy: Alternative Medicine for Pain, Immunity & Digestion.” Dr Axe Food is Medicine. n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
Bright, Sierra. “9 Reasons Everyone Should Try Cupping Therapy.” Natural Living Ideas. 8 Aug. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.

Best Tools for Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial release therapy can prove to be highly advantageous for athletes that undertake intensive training and play high-action games that stress their myofascial structure. This treatment helps to keep their muscles healthy so that they have no pain or discomfort. Regular sessions can also help maintain free movement, feeling of lightness, and flexibility. Therapists perform myofascial release therapy by using gentle, sustained pressure and slow stretching. However, depending on the requirements of their patients, they may also recommend the use of certain tools to helps with the release in stress in the myofascial structure.

Cylindrical Foam Rollers

Cylindrical foam rollers can help you perform myofascial release therapy on yourself. It is very simple to do and even senior citizens and young adults that are dealing with age-related or injury-related myofascial stress can easily use it. You only have to lie on the rollers with the trigger point facing the roller and move gently. Rely on the instructions of your therapist to understand exactly how it is done.

 

 

 

Curved Canes, also called Theracanes

Curved canes also called Theracanes can help you access those hard-to-reach trigger points so you can perform therapy on yourself in the comfort of your home.

 

 

 

 

Roller Sticks

Roller sticks come with spikes, spines, or bumps. You can move them over the affected areas to help soften the muscles and relieve the tightness in them. Yet another method for using them is to place them on the floor and roll the affected muscles over them.

 

 

 

Acupressure Balls

Acupressure Balls can be used for manual trigger point releases in small sections. Like for example, you could move them on the biceps or on the underside of your thighs to help relax the stress points.

 

 

 

Floss Bands

Floss Bands work to compress the injured muscles. As your therapist will direct you, wrap the bands around the injured areas and perform the full range of motions. Take care to leave the floss bands on for a maximum of 2 minutes. When you remove them, the muscles will receive a boost of oxygen and nutrient rich blood. The lymph movement in the area will help to carry away the buildup of toxins.

 

 

Vacuum Cups

Vacuum cups used in myofascial release therapy are very similar to the cups used in cupping therapy. The cups are made of soft, flexible silicone. After placing the cup on the trigger point, your therapist will squeeze it to void the air inside it. The vacuum created in the cup lifts the skin off the myofascial structure so that a gap is created. As blood rushes the fill the area, it brings with it fresh oxygen and nutrients that help heal the stressed muscles and fascia. After a few minutes, the cup is removed.

 

Myofascial Release Therapy for Athletes

When you stress your muscles and myofascial structure during athletic activities, you may have symptoms of myofascial pain. These signs can include long-term discomfort and sensations of excessive pressure on any particular section of the body. You might also start to feel a stiffness and may start to favor a shoulder or leg without noticing. Various forms of non-invasive therapy can help your muscles heal and alleviate the stiffness so you can continue to perform as before. One of such treatments is myofascial release therapy.

Consider getting these tools for Myofascial Release Therapy self-care.

Who Can Provide Myofascial Release Therapy?

If you’re looking for myofascial release therapy, you might want to look for a therapist who has the necessary training and certification to perform therapy on you. Some such professionals include:

  • Specialists that have a detailed knowledge of sports medicine or sports injury
  • Massage therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical or occupational therapists
  • Osteopathic physicians

How a Myofascial Release Therapy Session Progresses

Injuries and stress in one section of the myofascial structure of the body often communicate to other sections through the network of collagen and elastin. For this reason, when you sign up for myofascial release therapy, your healer will likely conduct a detailed examination of your muscles. He may also ask you a series of questions that are intended to identify the trigger points or the special areas that are injured. Here’s everything you need to know about subsequent sessions:

  • Myofascial release sessions are conducted in an outpatient center or healthcare facility.
  • Each session may last for 30 to 50 minutes at a time.
  • Your therapist may use gentle sustained pressure for a few minutes at a time. Or, he may use low load stretches to release the pressure on specific muscles.
  • If you feel a slight burning sensation, that could indicate the stimulation of a healing chemical reaction.
  • In case of swelling and inflammation, cold compresses are used. And, constricted muscles are treated with heat packs.
  • You may be asked to come in daily or at intervals of a few days for a few initial sessions.
  • Depending on the severity of the symptoms, therapy might continue for a few weeks or months.
  • Your therapist will show you how you can perform slow, stretching exercises to regain your range of motion and keep your muscles flexible. Careful aerobic exercises also help boost blood circulation to the injured areas.
  • If needed, your therapist may combine treatment with other therapies to help you better. These therapies can include acupressure, acupuncture, infrared light treatments, and pain injections. He might also recommend oral medication like analgesics, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.

Indications that the Myofascial Release Session is Successful

In case you’re wondering if the therapy is working on you and healing your muscles, look for these signs:

  • Better range of motion
  • Easing of the pain and swelling
  • Movement is freer and lighter

Tools for Myofascial Release Self-care

While it is always preferable to work with an expert professional to get myofascial release therapy, you can also use certain tools that can help you exert pressure on the trigger points for relief. Check with your therapist for the correct methods of using these tools. You can also watch online videos for demonstrations.

  • myofascial release therapy

    Breaking Muscle

    Cylindrical Foam Roller: Place the foam roller on the floor and lay on it with the injured trigger point facing the roller. You’ll need to move very slowly at the rate of an inch or so per minute. Pause in between for several seconds on especially tight areas for the pressure to help release the stress. Within 5 to 30 seconds, you’ll start to feel the pressure easing and discomfort lessening. While you can identify the trigger points yourself, you could also ask your trainer for directions.

  • Curved Cane, also called the Theracane: These canes are essentially self-massaging tools that you can use to reach the trigger points that are causing you discomfort.
  • Roller Stick: Some of these sticks may come with spikes, spines, or bumps. You only need to move them over the affected muscles for stress relief.
  • Acupressure Ball: You can use these balls to massage areas such as the biceps or thighs.
  • Floss Band: You can wrap the floss bands around your calf, knee, elbow, or any other affected area for about 2 minutes. After wrapping, put the muscles through the entire range of motion. When you remove the band, the rush of blood to the area can bring in fresh oxygen and nutrients. The boost in lymph flow helps carry away lactic acid and other toxins the muscles have released.
  • Lacrosse Ball: These balls work similarly to acupressure balls and help release myofascial stress.
  • Vacuum Cups: Using cups to create suction on the trigger points is a completely distinct therapeutic modality with a wide range of applications. It is called cupping therapy and you can learn how to perform the therapy on your own or work with a certified cupping therapist.
  • H-shaped Channeled Foam Roller: These rollers work very much like cylindrical foam rollers but they are H in shape and are especially useful for back pain.

Getting myofascial release therapy from a certified therapist is always an advisable method of helping release the pain and stiffness that can occur because of athletic activities and training. However, you can get certain tools to help the healing process along. Use them under the directions of your therapist to supplement the treatment she provides.

References:
“Myofascial Release for Athletes: Pain, Prevention, Performance.” MFR Brisbane. n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Wilson, Rob. “Foam Rollers Don’t Work: Understanding Myofascial Release.” Breaking Muscle. n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Morgan. “Myofascial Decompression (Cupping Therapy)- The Whats, Whys, and Hows.” Evolution Sports. 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Ganfield, Lisa. OTR/L. CHT. “Myofascial Release Therapy.” Spine Health. 8 June 2009. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
Kuhland, Jeff. “What Is A Foam Roller, How Do I Use It, And Why Does It Hurt?” Breaking Muscle. n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
Kendell, Naomi. “Myofascial Release – Treatments and Massage Techniques You Can Do Yourself.” Streaming Fit. n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
Vieux, Michele. “The Wonderful World of Voodoo Floss.” Invictus Blog. n.d. Web. 12 mar. 2017.

Understanding How Myofascial Release Benefits Athletes

Myofascial release therapy is highly beneficial for muscular pain. You might have developed the pain because of various issues such as an injury, fall, strain or sprain, and even bad posture. If you enjoy playing high-impact games or are a professional athlete, myofascial release therapy can help you recover from the training sessions you put your body through and the possible injuries you incur when playing the games. This treatment is also good for the specific muscles you use repeatedly when performing an athletic move. Like for example, the shoulder muscles used for making “reach and pull motions” during swimming.

You can perform certain myofascial release exercises on your own. Ask your therapist for the right tools you can use. To see a few great examples, click here.

What is the Myofascial Network?

The myofascial network is a layer of elastin and collagen fibers within a viscous liquid also called ground substance that surrounds every inch of your body below the skin and above the muscles and other tissues. This structure forms 80% of the soft tissues of your body and keeps your internal organs, bones, nerves, and muscles protected. Thick in some areas and thinner in others, this network is highly flexible and helps you perform any kind of movement smoothly. Athletes can perform effective motions like running, kicking a ball, swinging a bat or a golf iron as long as the myofascial structure is healthy and functioning well to cushion the impact of each motion.

How Athletes Cause Damage to their Myofascial Tissues

Any wound, injury, or surgical procedure conducted on the myofascial structure results in bleeding and inflammation. Trauma of any kind can also cause damage to the network of elastin and collagen. The adhesions in the network thus make it difficult for athletes to move freely. Eventually, these adhesions become trigger points that can set off muscular pain in other sections of the body that seem completely unrelated.

Aside from injuries and trauma, the training sessions that athletes undertake also cause stress to the myofascial network. When athletes train, they are likely to make repetitive motions and use a specific set of muscles again and again. To manage the repetitive stress on the same muscles, the myofascial structure thickens, tightens, and makes the appropriate changes to prepare for the next session of training. These distortions make movement difficult and athletes start to feel the stiffness in their muscles.

Symptoms of Issues with the Myofascial Structure

The trigger points in the myofascial structure caused by trauma are also called gristle, ropes, knots, and scar tissue. Essentially, they are small sections of misaligned tissues that result from the biological and chemical changes in the myofascial network. Here are some symptoms that indicate you need treatment.

Pain

Pain is typically caused in the trigger points and makes movement difficult. An expert therapist is trained in identifying the specific trigger points and trauma areas. Often, the injured sections of the myofascial network may not hurt at all but broadcast the pain to other sections of the body that seem disconnected. For this reason, when you come in for a session of myofascial release treatment, your therapist will begin by palpitating and gently pressing down on the different sections of the body. These actions help to identify the injured areas properly before beginning treatment.

Difficulty in Movement

When your skin does not smoothly slide over the damaged, underlying myofascial structure and muscles, you start to feel the stiffness and difficulty in movement. As you strain to continue to move, the muscles and joints start to become inflamed and stressed. To cope with the inflammation, the body sets of chemical reactions in an attempt to heal them. If you continue to move as before and don’t give your body time to heal, you end up with the joints to moving off axis and muscles taking on unnatural movement patterns. In the long run, you end up with an excess of fat and calcium deposits in the damaged muscles and joints.

Tightness and Dense Areas of Tissue

As long as you move normally, the myofascial network remains in its gel-like state and flexible. But, the repetitive stress makes the gel turn into a more solid form that can begin to exert pressure on the muscles, nerves, and bones. That’s the reason why you feel the stiffness and pain. You’ll also start to feel like there are hard patches below the skin that seem sore to touch. Sensations like these patches are pressng down on your muscles every time you try to move are also a common complaint of athletes.

How Athletes can Prevent Damage to the Myofascial Structure

Myofascial Release Benefits for Athletes

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Prevention is no doubt better than cure and by taking a few simple precautions, you can minimize the damage you cause to your myofascial structure. Here are a few simple habits to follow:

  • Perform the necessary stretching as directed by your physical instructor before training for or playing a sport. For instance, maintain a stretched posture for at least 5 minutes. This time interval helps your soft tissues return to their normal, flexible, gel-like state.
  • Be gentle with your muscles. If you strain too hard, you’ll cause micro-tears in the tissues.
  • Soft tissues have the capability to remember the repetitive movements you subject them to. By conducting gentle movements, you induce them to stop anticipating stress and return to their flexible form.
  • Conduct long stretches to allow the knotted myofascial network to release the stress and loosen up for movement.
  • By pressing down and holding the pressure for a few minutes on specific sections of the muscles, you can help them become more flexible. Rubbing, palpitating, and rolling the tissues do provide relief but only for a short while.
  • Check with your therapist about the various tools you can use to perform myofascial release therapy on your own. Learn how to use them appropriately so you can release the pressure on your muscles whenever needed.

Benefits of Myofascial Release for Athletes

Of course, the best positive of getting myofascial release therapy is that it keeps athletes’ muscles healthy so they can continue to train and perform well in their sporting events. Here’s how the therapy helps.

  • Lighter sensation because muscles are relaxed and movement is free of restrictions
  • Better posture and ease in running
  • Better range of motion with improved flexibility
  • Fewer instances of muscular, back, shoulder, and any other kind of pain
  • Better hydration.
  • Lower inflammation levels

Myofascial release therapy can prove to be highly beneficial for athletes because it specifically targets the muscles, nerves, joints, and myofascial structures of their bodies. Therapists train extensively to understand the structure and help athletes lower the damage they have and recover quickly and completely. As a result, they can not only continue to perform to the best of their potential but they also avoid long-term adverse effects.

References:
“Myofascial Release for Athletes: Pain, Prevention, Performance.” MFR Brisbane. n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Wilson, Rob. “Foam Rollers Don’t Work: Understanding Myofascial Release.” Breaking Muscle. n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Morgan. “Myofascial Decompression (Cupping Therapy)- The Whats, Whys, and Hows.” Evolution Sports. 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.

How You Can Benefit from Myofascial Decompression

Myofascial decompression is another term for cupping therapy. It aptly describes how cupping works to help you with musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. The suction provided by cupping helps to create a vacuum between the skin and underlying tissues by way of a process that is the reverse of massage therapy. As a result, the area is flooded with fresh blood that is rich in nutrients and oxygen. These healing elements work to heal the tissues so that the pain and stiffness you feel is relieved. But, how does the mechanism really work? To completely understand it, one must first have a clear idea of what is the myofascial network.

Therapists looking for a great set of myofascial decompression tools can check out this collection.

What is the Myofascial Network?

The myofascial network is a layer present just below the skin that comprises of collagen and elastin fibers packed in a viscous liquid. Not only does this layer keep your inner organs protected and affixed in their appropriate places, it serves another very important function. It works to absorb the impact of your movements and keeps your muscles working efficiently and smoothly. Since the entire layer is a network of fibers, any pain caused by an injury or stress in even a small section gets transmitted to other areas in the body.

Mechanism of the Body’s Healing Processes

Here’s another interesting factor. Each time you have an injury like a strain or sprain and stress your tissues, the body sets off a healing process. However, when it repairs the tissues, collagen, and elastin, they don’t regenerate in an even pattern like the original tissue you were born with. Instead, they form an uneven scar tissue that is tougher and has less flexibility. This scar tissue also has a lesser blood supply so the healing process might slow down and stop before the tissues are repaired completely. That’s the reason why you may continue to experience pain from time to time. You might even feel stiffness in the muscles or joint long after you first had the injury.

How Myofascial Decompression Helps

Myofascial decompression targets the affected areas by following the meridians on the body. Your therapist uses her keen knowledge of the meridians crisscrossing the body and its muscular structure. She carefully places the cups in the injured areas that have lesions and knots. Even as the skin is lifted and the tissues receive more blood, they begin to heal. As a result, you feel the knots loosening and pain easing. With each subsequent session, you’ll find that stiffness is fading away and movement getting better.

Benefits of Myofascial Decompression for Athletes

While cupping therapy or myofascial decompression works exceedingly well to help any person, young or old with any kind of injuries and muscles lesions, the treatment is particularly beneficial for athletes. When athletes conduct intensive training, they develop micro-tears in their tissues. As these mini-injuries heal, the muscles become stronger and athletes develop more strength and stamina. Myofascial decompression helps the injuries heal quickly so athletes can train for longer and harder. Many physical therapists and trainers are training in the therapy so they can help their athletes in training rooms. Athletes also need help with the healing of the injuries they may incur when performing on the field. And, myofascial decompression or cupping therapy is just what they need to get back in the game quickly.

How the Myofascial Decompression Session Progresses

Myofascial Decompression

Yelp

When you first come in for a myofascial decompression session, your therapist will assess the range of motion you can perform comfortably. Using his knowledge of the meridian and myofascial structure of the body, he will identify the exact points that need treatment. Accordingly, he will perform cupping using dry cupping or massage cupping to target the lesions and knots. When he moves the cup over the specific trigger points, athletes may feel a popping sensation as the tension is released with a feeling of deep relaxation afterward.

After each session, the therapist may conduct a repeat assessment to judge the improvement levels and effectiveness of the therapy. Here are some of the motions he may test:

  • Active flexion or extension movement – This is the movement you make when you raise a joint and create an angle with your body. Like, for example, when you bend a knee and raise a leg.
  • Reach and pull movements that swimmers use
  • Hip flexion and knee movements that mimic the running motion

Myofascial Decompression Benefits for Athletes

Myofascial decompression sessions have the effect of relaxing the stiffness in the muscles and relieving pain. They can also provide better range of movement. For this reason, athletes may opt for the treatment for relief from many different muscular injuries. These issues can include hamstring and calf injuries along with hip flexor strains like in cyclists and runners. Or, shoulder and back issues that swimmers deal with. Overhead sports may also cause such issues.

In Conclusion

As a professional athlete training and performing in sports or someone who has musculoskeletal issues, you can opt for myofascial decompression sessions. The American Physical Therapy Association has reported that the therapy can help with issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, lower back pain, and knee osteoarthritis to name a few. Though, they also say that more extensive testing may be needed to understand exactly how it works.

Suffice to say that the treatment is an ancient practice that has been used by various cultures all through the centuries and it is now attracting interest in recent times. Mainly because it has clearly indicated that it can help patients recover from their musculoskeletal issues.

References:
Ross, Brandi. “New Methods Of Myofascial Decompression (Cupping) For Athletes” Breaking Muscle. n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.
Ross, Brandi. “Cupping And The Injured Athlete – Does It Work?” Breaking Muscle. n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.
Diaz, Brian. “SUSTAINABILITY OF YOU – Myofascial Decompression: Not Just For Olympians.” Endurance Magazine. 5 Sept. 2016. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.
Cobian, Daniel PT. DPT. PhD. and Heiderscheit, Bryan PT. PhD. “Cupping: Why We’re All Seeing Spots.” American Physical Therapy Association. 15 Aug. 2016. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

Understanding the Ethos Behind Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a simple, non-invasive form of healing that any person can learn to do on his or her own. You won’t need to get extensive training, nor will you need to dedicate a lot of your time to the therapy. By following a few basic instructions, you can condition your mind to heal any mental and physical ailments including stress and pain. All it takes a few minutes of your time each day and some amount of practice. Age, culture, religious beliefs, gender, or any other differences present no barrier. Here is some added information that you may find useful.

Principles That Form the Basis of Guided Imagery

Principle 1 – The Mind and Body are Closely Connected
Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery and Stress Management

The images that you create in your mind are as vivid as reality. Just like you remember some of your dreams like they were actual events. When you experience the dreams, they seem more real that the actual world. For instance, when you’re in a deep sleep and the alarm goes off, you probably experience a few minutes of disorientation while you come out of the dream and recognize your surroundings. The mind is a very powerful medium and since the mind controls the working of the body, you can train it to heal the body.

Try these examples to understand this connection better. Think back at an instance when you were embarrassed about something. You’ll sense your face beginning to become warm. Or, think about some specific object or situation that scares you completely. You’ll start to feel a chill and maybe, even shiver. So, you see, images can evoke a physical response. And, it is this response that you need to train your mind to induce.

Principle 2. Recognize the Potency of the Subconscious State

Every person has a conscious state and a subconscious state. When you’re having a conversation or executing a task with concentration, that’s your conscious state. But, the alternate or subconscious state is governed by other brainwave activity. While you go about your tasks, your brain is also working to process other information like trying to remember unfinished activities and making notes of the atmosphere around you.

For instance, when you’re loading the washing machine while talking on the phone, you do it perfectly because you’ve taught your mind to do it. Or, you’re picking up the weekly groceries without a list. Your brain knows what you’ll need thanks to the training it’s gone through. However, sometimes, the subconscious mind takes over and puts you in a state of reverie. You become unaware of the reality around you.

Like for instance, when you completely forget where you put down your keys. Or, you know you had a file in your hand, but you can’t remember in which desk drawer you placed it. Or, try this example. You become so focused on playing an online game that you lose track of time. This subconscious or alternate state can be stimulated to help you do tasks that normally you would be incapable of doing.

Principle 3 – You Need a Sense of Control

Having a sense of control over situations around you makes you feel much more confident about yourself. When you plan for how a presentation will progress, you develop self-esteem. In case, you’re faced with unexpected questions, the confidence carries you through. When you’re prepared for pain, you can deal with more pain than you thought possible. When you’re expecting setbacks, you can put together a plan of action. Even if they are bigger than expected, you’ll still be able to cope.

Guided Imagery – Culmination of these Principles

Guided Imagery

Control Stress with Hypnotherapy

By bringing these principles together, you can truly understand and perform guided imagery. You need to learn to awaken the alternate state by conditioning the brain how to act or respond to a situation. And, this can be done by visualizing a series of images that lead up to a certain action. For example, proponents of guided imagery talk about how you can imagine your blood cells surrounding an injured section of your body and repairing it. If you practice positive thoughts long enough, you can stimulate your alternate state to bring about the healing process in reality.

History of Guided Imagery

Records from the 13th century talk about how Tibetan monks practiced guided imagery by imagining that the Buddha was treating their illnesses. Some historians also believe that ancient Romans and Greeks or perhaps, American Indians were the original users of this technique. Modern day practice of guided imagery can be linked to Helen Bonny who built a connection with music therapy and healing by using this modality. In the late 1980s, Leslie Davenport wrote a book, “Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery” that traced the method to ancient Indians and Buddhists.

In around 2008, researchers began using brain scans and blood tests to study how guided imagery can affect the functioning of immune cells similar to how they behave in response to meditation or hypnosis.

Although guided imagery as a healing technique was viewed with skepticism by medical science, many medical practitioners, health organizations, and medical facilities are now accepting that it can actually work. You can also find doctors that specifically train to provide this therapy to their patients to help them heal and overcome their illnesses.

References:
Naparstek. Staying Well with Guided Imagery. 1994. Healthjourneys. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“Guided Imagery – Topic Overview.” WebMD. n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“History of Guided Imagery.” The Healing Waterfall. n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.