Finding relief with cupping therapy


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — If you have sore muscles or pain, you may think about booking a massage appointment.

But a massage isn’t the only way to relieve your pain. 

For professional ballerina Madeleine Scott, finding ways to relieve tight and sore muscles is a must.  Scott tried physical therapy but wasn’t finding any relief. 

“I was spending a lot of time on the slant board stretching my calves. I was also having a lot of upper back pain,” Scott said. 

After turning to cupping therapy Scott says she finally found relief. 

“The first time I tried cupping it was an interesting feeling, it’s kind of like an intense stretch at first,” Scott said.  

According to the Mayo Clinic, cupping therapy involves creating a vacuum within cups, being placed on certain acupuncture points on the skin.

“So what it really is designed to do is act more of like a decompression through the skin to lift up layers between the skin, muscle, fascia and fat,” Physical therapist Leah Fulker said. 

Fulker says this allows more blood flow to the area, circulation, pain relief, improved movement and acts as a deep tissue massage. 

“I see people for neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, rotator cuff, any sort of tendonitis, lower back pain, hip pain, plantar facitis, knee pain, I mean the list goes on and on,” Fulker said. 

She says cups can be placed anywhere from just a few seconds up to about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Experts say different versions of cups are used depending on the patients needs. 

Fulker says certain cups are used during static therapy, or without movement, and others are used during dynamic therapy where a patient performs stretches. 

“You can do like a plunger effect, so the amount of decompression in that area will be less intense, or you can invert the cup itself and put it on the area of discomfort, apply down, and then that suction power would be about double of the other one,” Fulker said.

Scott notices more flexibility almost immediately after the therapy, adding that she doesn’t feel any pain.
But for those who tend to be more sensitive, Fulker says the form of therapy will be discussed on case by case basis. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, cupping may help reduce pain, but there’s not enough research yet to say for sure.

To read more about cupping therapy, click here.

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