What is massage cupping? An expert tells us all about it!

william burtonWe are really excited to share this interview with you guys! We recently spoke with William Burton about a topic we haven’t covered on this blog yet, Massage Cupping.

William Burton was born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love, graduated in 2002 at the National Massage Therapy Institute as a Certified Massage Therapist. William has traveled the country as a professional educator and instructor. He apprenticed and mentored under the tutelage of Massage Cupping’s creator, Anita Shannon. As owner of MindBody Therapeutics located in Philadelphia, William works with clients who have a wide variety of muscular dysfunctions and ailments; athletes, and everyday people who seek relief from stress and injury. William has also written a Deep Tissue Massage Manual.

Our thanks to William for graciously giving his time and chatting with Massamio. Now, let’s jump right into the interview!

Massamio: For those who don’t know, could you give a short explanation of what massage cupping is and a little history about the practice?

William: Massage cupping bodywork is based on the common practice of Baguanfa or Chinese Cupping Therapy. With the creation of “Negative Pressure” or suction, the lifting action of Massage Cupping is used to soften tight muscles, loosen adhesions, increase hydration in soft tissues, and stimulate both blood and lymphatic flow. Even though massage cupping and Chinese cupping therapy are similar, the development of techniques for Massage Therapist mimics our massage strokes.

Massamio: How long have you been using massage cupping in your practice, and what drew you to this modality?

William: I have been both instructing and using massage cupping for 6 years now. What drew me to this modality upon researching were its simplicity of techniques as well as its ability to adapt to any treatment and also its ability to mimic my massage strokes: Effleurage, Friction, etc.

Massamio: What are some of the reasons that clients come to you for cupping?

William: Most clients seek out therapeutic bodywork for two reasons: Pain management and increase in ROM/Flexibility. Used as an adjunct to my normal therapeutic sessions, massage cupping has allowed my hands more latitude, sessions are shorter, clients have little to absolutely no discomfort and results are quicker and longer lasting.

Massamio: The pictures and videos of the technique are fascinating. Is it painful? What does it actually feel like?

William: Not painful at all (LOL)! Lubrication is applied prior to the actual application of the cupping techniques to facilitate the gliding of the cups. Remember this is MASSAGE cupping. Most clients refer to it as a deep skin rolling. Again, it’s the lifting action that gives the ability to have zero discomfort for the client so we can move across endangerment zones as well as the spine while never jeopardizing their comfort.

massage-cuppingMassamio: Are there different kinds of massage cupping supplies and equipment involved? What are your favorite techniques and equipment that you like to use?

William: At ACE Massage Cupping we have many different types of cups: For Massage Cupping we have the Manual Cup set: (14 cups- 7 different sizes), Magnetic Cups, Face Drainage Cups. For MediCupping we have our MC-600 Vacumobilization Machine with 9 different sized cups and we have our Russian sports Silicone cups for our TheraCupping.

My favorite is the Manual Cup set and handgun which provides the suction. Of the 12 different techniques used in Massage Cupping, even though I use most of them and enjoy the positive therapeutic effect I get from using them my favorite techniques that I use the most are: Gliding, Suction/Release, and Rolling Rotation.

Massamio: Do you have any interesting stories of how massage cupping has helped you, or your clients, in ways that surprised you?

William: As a therapist and I’m sure I speak for a lot of other therapists, we are always looking for different approaches, techniques, intents, modalities all in the quest of aiding our clients. I’ve found what I was searching for with Massage Cupping. Not only has Massage Cupping changed the way I approach a session but it has really refined my intent or as we call it at ACE Massage Cupping…Intentuition, which is the blending of intention and knowledge with intuition.

This is noticed by my clients as well as felt before, during, and after a typical session. The longer lasting positive results are the things that surprise me the most which is ironic because being in this business for 10 years you would’ve thought I’ve seen it all, but each time I receive a positive reply from clients then being surprised is a just reward. I’m happy.

Massamio: What advice would you give independant massage therapists if they’re interested in getting certified in massage cupping?

William: First and foremost seek out a workshop at www.massagecupping.com. I am one of seven educators at ACE Massage Cupping spread out across the country. My primary location is the Northeast. Take the three day workshop and become certified. The three day workshop will open all participants to everything that is Massage Cupping or Medicupping.

Learn the techniques and even after the workshop continue to practice the techniques so they become an extension of your hands. We also have Medicupping workshops which are also three day workshops where you use the MC-600 Vacumobilization machine. I would never recommend for any modality just going out and buying the DVD and then start applying the techniques. NO NO NO. Get the hands on, get the experience, and get the face time with the instructor(s), I can’t express more how valuable this is and with our massage cupping workshops you get just that.

Thanks, William! Now it’s your turn, dear readers–anybody out there who uses massage cupping in their practice? How are your clients responding to it? Leave us a comment!


Comments from original Massamio post:

My Clients love to receive Massage Cupping. Most of the time the results can be felt right away. The client tells of relief in that particular area usually the back. Clients have said that their body feels lighter, or that they notice an increase in their range of motion of an arm or leg etc.. As a Therapist Massage Cupping makes my job easier and it saves my hands especially my thumbs from a lot of wear and tear. Recommmended for people with issues in their tissues — Posted @ Tuesday, January 29, 2013 9:53 PM by Marie Gee

I’ve been doing massage cupping for almost two years. My clients love it and request it regularly. I highly recommend training! I have taken three courses with ACE massage cupping now and plan on more in the future. If improperly trained you can hurt people and scare them away. With proper knowledge and skill, you can provide greater treatment in the same amount of time while being more gentle to your own body.  This tool is very effective at releasing adhesions from old injuries, increasing ROM and limits from surgeries, restoring proper lymphatic flow especially when lymph nodes have been removed. I have even cleared up black eyes when a client fell. After the treatment, her co-workers said they could literally see the purple colors fade from her face.   I use the electronic machine and rarely leave marks. If you use the minimum amount of suction needed, there’s little chance of leaving a mark. If one does appear, I make sure to explain to my client that this is temporary and is also a natural part of clearing out what is not needed by their body. Massage cupping is not mainstream yet, so both therapist and client education is essential! — Posted @ Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:24 AM by Lesley waters

Cupping is cupping and has been around for a good long time and practiced mostly by acupuncturists (who call it cupping). I’m not sure why we would want to call it massage cupping. — Posted @ Thursday, January 31, 2013 1:35 PM by Jan Schwartz