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Cupping Therapy – How it Works

By Licensed Massage Therapist, Robin Markus – LMT, EHAP, RM, RP.

I was introduced to cupping on the RAGBRI trail by another massage therapist. She explained the benefits of using cupping on the IT bands for runners and cyclists.  With a tight seal, skin is drawn up into the cup.  The cup is like a handle for maneuvering around the area being worked.  The more suction, the more pull.  I was fascinated and signed up for a class in Davenport.

Through cupping, athletes can find relief in areas they feel pain. For example, a RAGBRI biker comes in complaining of pain in their IT bands, traditional massage treatment involves treating the attachments of the IT band.  Adding cupping can offer more relief, by pulling the IT band up from the muscle layers underneath to help break up adhesions.  When areas have adhesions, it is like a snag on a sweater.  The fabric around it bunches up and it doesn’t move freely.  In the body, this “snagging” can cause restriction and pain.  Lifting and separating the skin from the band allows more movement.

Cupping can be used for many injuries, including:

  • IT Band Friction Syndrome
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Post-Surgical Scar Tissue
  • Muscle Strains
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Facial Injections
  • Sciatica
  • Stagnant Lymph and Edema
  • Lung Inflammation and Congestion

At Southwest Health, we use silicone cups with a hand trigger to determine the amount of suction, giving us more control of the pressure we are creating.  Small cups are used for the face, hands and feet, larger cups for the back, shoulders, abdomen, arms and legs.

What are some of the major benefits?

  • Cupping can help break up adhesions with far less pain than deep tissue massage!
  • It can help bring increased blood flow to the top layers of skin, and even help banish cellulite and lessen the look of wrinkles.
  • Cupping is a great way to help relieve the pain of stubborn ailments.

If it sounds like something you can benefit from, give us a call!  We have 2 talented massage therapists with a wealth of knowledge, who tailor sessions specific to your pain.  In addition to cupping, we offer Relaxation Massage, Therapeutic Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, Prenatal Massage and Hot Stone Massage.

Call the Orthopedic Institute today at (608)342-4748 to make your appointment!


Appointments with Aurora are available Monday through Thursday from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Appointments with Robin are available Monday through Friday from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Saturday sessions are also available by appointment.

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