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Cupping Therapy

Many people have experienced the pain of trigger points, even if they do not know what trigger points are. Not to be confused with acupressure points or ‘pressure points,’ trigger points are typically found in muscles that are overworked or injured from falls, strains and sprains. A major cause of trigger points is submaximal isometric muscle contraction (contraction without shortening) of muscle (Davies, p. 26). When we are holding a static position for long periods of time we are contracting several muscles without shortening them. This is the perfect setup for trigger points and myofascial pain, as anyone who sits at a computer all day can attest!  In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), trigger points are associated with stagnation of Blood and/or Qi at a musculoskeletal level (Zihni Chirali, p. 231).

The Traditional Technique to Release Trigger Points

The traditional technique to release trigger points is to compress and hold, applying ischemic compression. This technique forces the blood and lymph out of the area and signals the trigger point to release. One of the problems with using this technique is that the therapist must hold significant pressure on the trigger point for prolonged periods of time, which can become painful for both the therapist and the client.

Cupping and Trigger Points  

Imagine now, how much more effective cupping is in ‘drawing’ fluid, both blood and lymph, from a trigger point through the application of negative pressure. Also, once the cup is placed, it can be gently ‘pumped’ to move the fluid even more. The pistol-handle style of cups allows for greater control of the strength of suction when applying cups over trigger points.  As trigger points are often located deep in the muscle tissue, it is often necessary to use medium to strong cupping to get them to release. Medium and strong cupping moves the Qi, blood and lymph fluid, which is the therapeutic effect you are looking for when cupping trigger points. This is especially effective for musculoskeletal complaints, muscle relaxation and sports injuries. Excellent for ‘moving’ stagnant lymph fluid and blood out and fresh blood into an area. Not only does cupping move the lymph and blood, it is also excellent at loosening the myofascial tissue around the trigger point, allowing for further movement of fluids after the treatment.