Most people are familiar with the benefits of deep tissue massage. This popular bodywork therapy provides relief from chronic muscle tension and pain, improves circulation and mobility, and helps you destress. However, deep tissue massage isn’t always the best approach to healing – especially if you are highly sensitive or inflamed.  

For those who want a gentler approach to muscle and fascia relief, negative pressure therapy is the perfect alternative. You may have heard of cupping, a negative pressure therapy that involves applying glass or silicone cups to the skin. The suction created beneath the cups’ surface pulls up on the layers of skin, fascia, and muscle to release tension and instigate healing.

This type of therapy has many of the same benefits as deep tissue massage, including better circulation, stress relief, and less inflammation. However, unlike deep tissue, cupping is gentle enough for people with chronic pain or other conditions that require a light touch.

Infinity Flexibility offers many styles of cupping at our office in Natick, MA, to treat a variety of conditions, from chronic pain to swelling. Keep reading if you’re curious to learn more, including a few unexpected ways negative cupping therapy may benefit you! 

close up shot of a cupping therapy - negative pressure cupping therapy at Infinity Flexibility

What is Negative Pressure Cupping Therapy?

Infinity offers a few types of negative pressure therapy, including manual and mechanical cupping.

Cupping is an ancient therapy where your therapist strategically places glass or silicone cups across the body, creating suction on the skin, fascia, and muscle tissues. This suction increases the circulation of blood and lymph fluid to reduce inflammation and instigate healing. It also provides relief from chronic tension or pain and can be as relaxing as a massage.

Negative pressure therapy is often used to assist with pain management, rehabilitation, and relaxation/stress relief. It’s particularly effective for treating musculoskeletal conditions, chronic pain, and sports injuries because it improves circulation, reduces inflammation, and promotes tissue healing after an injury or surgery.

Infinity uses a combination of manual and mechanical cupping to supplement our in-person bodywork treatments. 

Manual Cupping

Manual cupping is a traditional healing practice that dates back thousands of years and is rooted in various cultures, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

During manual cupping, a practitioner places glass or silicone cups on specific areas of the body and creates suction by either heating the cups or using a handheld pump. As the cups are placed on the tissue, the negative pressure created inside the cup draws the skin and underlying tissues upward, resulting in a decompressive effect. 

What is “Fire” Cupping?

Adding “fire” to cupping is an ancient form of negative pressure therapy. In winter, “fire” cupping adds the element of heat to the suction which is exceptionally therapeutic for many conditions. Typically, fire cups are placed on the large muscles along your spine, which is combined with a “sliding cup technique” and is very effective in reducing back pain and muscle spasms.

mechanical cupping machine from phyto5

Mechanical Cupping

Mechanical cupping, also known as pneumatic cupping, utilizes modern technology to achieve the same negative pressure effect as manual cupping. This technique typically involves mechanical devices equipped with suction pumps which create and control the amount of suction applied to the skin. 

Mechanical cupping devices often feature adjustable settings to customize the intensity and speed of the suction according to individual preferences and treatment needs. 

At Infinity, our mechanical cupping therapy utilizes the depth of suction and frequency as it is matched to the TCM five elements. Our most popular treatment is full-body mechanical cupping, which is perfect for resetting your lymph system and giving your immune system a boost.

7 Unexpected Benefits of Negative Pressure Cupping Therapy

The benefits of negative pressure therapy include increased circulation and lymphatic drainage, pain relief, and tissue regeneration.

The decompressive effect of cupping helps with muscle tension, inflammation, and pain from musculoskeletal conditions. It also increases the circulation of all the fluids in the body, improving oxygen and nutrient delivery to all of the body’s tissues. 

When the fluids in your body are moving, your body more easily gets rid of toxins, metabolic waste, and excess fluid. Over time, cupping therapy may stimulate cellular repair and regeneration to speed healing and recovery.

Now, most people don’t know what negative pressure therapy is, let alone the best way to use it to improve your health. So, here are seven unexpected benefits of negative cupping therapy taken directly from our practice to show you how to bring cupping therapy into your healing routine.

1. For Healthy, Glowing Skin

Cupping is gentle enough to be used on the face and can have surprising benefits. Manual or mechanical cupping separates the delicate layers of fascia, muscle, and skin to increase circulation and release tension. Thus, cupping can be used to get rid of unwanted wrinkles, reduce swelling or redness, and leave you with bright, glowing skin. 

One of our clients did a full seasonal facial series over one year. After her sessions were complete, she went to her yearly dermatologist appointment and was delighted to hear that she didn’t have to have any pre-cancerous growths even though she normally had a least one.

The movement of fluids and increased space in the tissues of the face dramatically improved the health of her skin and her appearance too!

Woman holding breasts - negative pressure cupping therapy

2. For Mastitis and Breast Health

Your breast tissue is delicate and often sensitive. Not to mention, breasts contain many lymph nodes which require regular fluid movement and circulation to function properly. Both manual and mechanical cupping are effective ways to increase fluid circulation and movement in the breasts. 

One of our clients recently came in with bad mastitis from breastfeeding her newborn. We did a mechanical breast massage, once in the morning and again in the evening, which cleared up 80% of the inflammation to help her body heal.

3. For Injured Tendons and Ligaments

Some tendons and ligaments become too tight for the pressure of a typical massage. For example, the IT band is one area that may benefit more from cupping than a massage. This may also apply if you are recovering from a tendon or ligament injury which requires a lighter touch.

close up of person body with scar - negative pressure cupping therapy for scar tissue

4. For Scar Tissue

Your body forms scar tissue as a natural part of the healing process. Large areas of scar tissue, like those from a major surgery or c-section, can benefit from negative pressure therapy. The cupping treatments gently pull the layers of skin apart, allowing for better circulation and faster healing. Cupping can also soften scar tissue over time which may increase your range of motion and decrease pain and stiffness.

5. For Chronic Pain

In those with chronic pain, cupping can provide relief by reducing inflammation, alleviating muscle tension, and promoting relaxation.

Chronic pain is characterized as any pain that lasts longer than three months. Your body holds onto the injury long past when it would normally heal. By using a combination of negative and positive pressure therapies, you can treat your chronic pain in multiple ways, keeping your body guessing and creating lasting healing in the body.

6. For Swelling

One of the primary benefits of cupping is that it increases fluid movement. Our lymphatic drainage treatment uses mechanical cups to draw the lymphatic fluid from the extremities into the lymph nodes. This process helps your body detox as the harmful substances in your lymphatic fluid are processed in the lymph nodes for disposal from the body.

In addition to detox, lymphatic drainage naturally reduces swelling in all areas of the body. You can use it to reduce facial swelling for a more toned jawline, on an injury to reduce edema, or any other area where fluid is collected to stimulate healing and natural drainage.

7. For Respiratory Conditions

Cupping is a particularly effective treatment for those suffering from respiratory illnesses. It can be used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and even allergies. Cupping loosens chest congestion and improves blood flow so you can breathe easily.

During the pandemic, many clients came in as they were healing from respiratory illness. Infinity recommends a full-body cupping treatment for respiratory conditions, which starts by drawing fluid from the back down the legs, and then moves fluid up the front of the body. The treatment ends at your chest, upper arms, neck, and face. 

Most of our clients feel major relief after the treatment, breathing freely through their noses and feeling lighter overall.

Negative Pressure Cupping Therapy at Infinity

At Infinity Flexibility in Natick, MA, we provide manual and mechanical cupping therapies, for pain relief, glowing skin, lymphatic drainage, and so much more!

This treatment has many of the same exciting benefits as massage but is much gentler and easier on the body. So, if you are sensitive to deep tissue work, or have chronic inflammation, extremely tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments, cupping therapy can make a huge difference! 

Try one of our in-person lymphatic drainage treatments for a full-body reset, or ask to add cupping to your next massage!

Not sure whether negative pressure therapy is right for you?

Ask your practitioner! They can help you choose when to use positive pressure therapies like massage or negative pressure cupping therapy. Both have many exciting benefits and are a powerful tool to bring balance and healing to your body.

Want to Work with Infinity?

Massachusetts locals can schedule an appointment for our Natick, MA office!

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