When people talk about cupping, they’re usually referring to traditional techniques involving fire cups, which are not usually moved on the skin. Cupping massage, however, has become increasingly popular as new types of therapeutic cups have been developed.
Plastic and silicone cups in particular offer a range of movement that was just not practical – and could even be dangerous – with glass cups. Massage therapists and acupuncturists both frequently use this technique, as it pleasantly stimulates blood flow, activates pressure points and provides relief from tense muscles.
What do we mean by cupping massage?
The technique has a few names, ranging from “moving cupping,” “sliding cupping,” “gliding cupping” and, of course, “cupping massage.”We prefer the last term because it provides a more familiar image than the other terms, which can perhaps be unclear. In any case, cupping massage refers to smooth motions of the cup across the skin, which is usually lubricated with massage oils, gels, lotions, creams or balms. This motion can be surprisingly relaxing, and commonly makes the patient feel as though the tension has quite literally been sucked out of their bodies.
- Make sure the skin and cups are both thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- The patient should lie down on their stomach on a comfortable flat surface, whether it is a bed or a massage table.
- Apply a liberal amount of oil, lotion, gels, cream or balm on the skin, covering the desired area of treatment.
- Place cups on skin. If you’re using silicone cups, you’ll want to squeeze them before placing them, and if you’re using plastic ones, you’ll want to create suction afterwards.
- Lift the cups ever so slightly, creating an increased tension, then move them across the skin. This part can be a little bit tricky to master, so make sure you’ve practiced it a few times before using the technique in a professional setting. Aim for around 4mm or less. It’s very easy to lift them too much, in which case they’ll come right off the skin. Move the cups slowly at first, and increase speed as you get more comfortable.