Many might think of cupping massage as a luxurious treatment only available through a professional. While this is still the case with traditional cupping that utilizes glass cups and fire, a new and innovative approach (with the same benefits we might add) using medical-grade silicone cups is now available! For those who may not be familiar with cupping therapy, below are a few science-backed benefits that you can now experience in the comfort of your own home!
Pain Management Benefits
Scientists reviewed over one hundred studies on cupping therapy and found evidence that this process helped to alleviate:
Chronic pain and inflammation, especially of the neck and back
Nerve pain, especially due to shingles
Pain associated with facial paralysis
Evidence suggests that cupping promotes healing primarily by increasing circulation to localized areas. Some key beauty benefits associated with cupping include:
Minimizing the appearance of varicose veins
Improving the look of skin tone & elasticity
Combating inflamed, acneic skin
Reducing the Appearance of scars
Targeting Fine Lines & Wrinkles
Creating a Youthful Glow
Pro Tips for Starting Out
1. Get familiar with your cups!
Take some time to squeeze your cups and identify which is the soft cup. You’ll use the soft cup starting out, as it’s a little easier to squeeze and will allow you to safely work up to deeper pressure. Once you’ve identified the soft cup, play with the levels of pressure you can achieve from squeezing it. A light squeeze won’t lift the tissue much at all, but a full squeeze will reach deeper and create a bubble of tissue that you can see inside the cup when you place it on your skin.
Be generous with the oil. I use (non-toasted) Sesame Oil as it helps provide the necessary suction and glide for the cups when you place them on your skin.
2. Practice guiding the cups.
Once you’ve placed the cup on your area of concern and can see the tissue is lifted up inside the cup, cease squeezing. Use your hand or fingers to simply guide the cup in the direction you want it to go, without applying pressure or squeezing. Keep a close eye on the tissue inside the cup. If it starts to get too red or dark or feels uncomfortable, you may have created too much suction. Remove the cup, and don’t squeeze as firmly before placing it again. To remove the cup, squeeze to release the suction, and lift away.
3. Gaining a general sense of direction.
When massage cupping at home, there are certain limitations you’ll have in movement unless you have a partner helping you. It’s important for you and/or your partner to understand the proper direction of strokes so that you are aiding in detox, and not hindering it. For home massage purposes, always stroke moving toward the heart. I.E. from feet to calf, from thigh to hip, from bottom to top of the stomach, etc. On the arms and back, stroke moving toward the armpits, or axilla.
There are many lymph nodes located throughout the body, but the main hubs you’ll want to try to remember are in the head and neck, the axilla, the crook of your elbows, the groin, and behind the knees. Be sure to complete strokes in between these hubs, moving excess fluid and toxins toward the lymph nodes to be flushed out naturally by the body.
Please note, unless you are a licensed therapist, it is not recommended to use cups on the neck. There are some motions you can use on the back of the neck, closer to the trapezius muscles, but it is not considered safe to move the cups over the prominent veins and lymph nodes located in the neck unless you are a trained professional.
4. Use an exfoliation mitt before or after your massage cupping treatment to maximize results. A mitt will aid in exfoliation, increase circulation, and/or to help remove any excess wellness oil from your skin after using the cups. They can also be used alone as separate treatments.
Three Basic Movements You Need to Know
The Fish Bite
Squeeze the cup, place it at the starting point on your area of concern, and move it up toward the designated lymph node hub, squeezing and releasing the cup as you go. Count in your head “1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2…” squeezing on “1” and releasing on “2.” You will see the tissue inside the cup get sucked in and then fall, every time you squeeze and release. The sensation may remind you of a little fish nibble!
Squeeze the cup, place it at the starting point on your area of concern, and move it up toward the designated lymph node hub in one fluid motion, without continuing to squeeze. Once you’ve completed the motion, pick up the cup and place it at the starting point again, and repeat.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Squeeze the cup, place it at the starting point on your area of concern, and move it up toward the designated lymph node hub in little circles, without continuing to squeeze. Take care not to perform circles going back down toward the starting point. To repeat circles, pick the cup back up and replace it at the starting point and work your way back up to the lymph node hub again. You can alternate between big circles and little circles.
Step 1: Cleanse the skin taking care to remove all makeup.
Step 2: Apply oil to the full face using your fingers. Wipe off excess oil from your hands on a towel.
Step 3: Perform the Facial Cupping Massage starting with horizontal effleurage strokes on the right side of the face, moving from the midline of the face toward your right ear. Do this twice and then repeat on the left side of your face.
Step 4: Next, do little Circles on the right side of the face moving from the midline toward the ear. Focus on massaging the areas of sagging and wrinkles such as the forehead, around the eyes, nasolabial folds, and jawline. Perform Circles twice, followed by Fish Bites, once. Repeat on the left side of the face.
Step 5: Finally, repeat the horizontal effleurage motions twice on each side of the face. Cleanse with the mitt to remove excess oil.
Cellulite Be Gone Upper Leg Protocol
Step 1: Apply oil to the left buttock and thigh.
Step 2: Using the soft cup on a light suction, start above the knee on the side of the thigh, and glide the cup in one long \motion up to the buttock. Pick up the cup and place it again above the knee on a light suction, and repeat the same motion up toward the buttock and groin, moving all around the circumference of the leg. Do this for 4 minutes.
Note: If experiencing any discomfort from cellulite tissue on the sensitive area inside the thigh, hold the skin taut to help reduce suction even further. If discomfort continues, cease working on this area.
Step 3: Next, use Circular motions starting above the knee and moving toward the buttock and groin. Do this for 3 minutes. Then, do Fish Bites for 2 minutes.
Step 4: Finally, finish with effleurage for 2 minutes and repeat the whole sequence on the right leg. You may continue this treatment by exfoliating using your mitt with soap and water in the shower. This will further stimulate circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Wrist Strain Relief Protocol
Step 1: For best results, apply oil to the palm of your working hand, and massage it into the opposite hand, wrist, and lower arm. Wipe off any excess oil from your working hand before grabbing your body cup.
Step 2: Start with effleurage glides moving from the wrist to the elbow. Do this along the sides and top of the lower arm for 30 seconds.
Step 3: Next, perform Circles moving from the wrist to the elbow. Do this along the sides and top of the lower arm for 30 seconds to 1 minute, as needed.
Step 4: Next, turn your hand overexposing your palm. Place the cup on the heel of your hand near the base of the thumb. Ensure you have fairly deep suction on this area. Once you are satisfied with your placement and suction, rock the cup from side to side, like you’re turning a doorknob, and move it along the heel of your hand from left to right. Do this for at least a minute.
Step 5: Finally, repeat the effleurage strokes moving from wrist to elbow along the sides and top of the lower arm for 30 seconds. Repeat the entire sequence on the other wrist.
Stress No More Headache Protocol
Step 1: Sit comfortably in a chair or cushion that allows you to reach the back of your neck and shoulders.
Step 2: For best results, apply oil onto the back of the neck and the tops of the shoulders.
Step 3: Using little Circles, massage the back of the neck with the soft cup for about a minute.
Step 4: Use effleurage strokes from the top of the shoulders up to the nape of your neck, being careful not to reach the sides of your neck where there are susceptible veins and arteries. Repeat this motion for 2 minutes, alternating from your left to ride hand as is comfortable to you.
Step 5: Apply oil to the forehead and temples. Using a facial cup, effleurage horizontally across the forehead, moving from the midline outward to the temples. Do this for 30 seconds on each side.
Step 6: Next, perform little Circles on the forehead, concentrating on the temples or above the eyebrows, depending on where the pressure feels most severe. Do this for 1 minute, at least.
Step 7: Finally, perform horizontal effleurage again from the midline out to the temples, 30 seconds on each side.
Bye Bye Belly Blues Protocol
Step 1: Apply oil to the stomach and lower back, hip-area, liberally. The lotion provides the “slip” for a smooth and easy glide with the cups.
Step 2: Squeeze the cup and set it down just above the (R) Hip
Step 3: Glide upwards to the (R) rib cage and follow on across to just under the (L) ribcage. Move down to the (L) hip.
Step 4: Congratulations, you have just completed your first abdominal massage circle! Repeat for 2 minutes. This can be done every day or as needed.
By Kristen Tallman, Licensed Esthetician + Certified Health Coach - Adapted from BEing Well