During the 2016 Olympics, Michael Phelps created buzz when he stepped out with dark purple bruises on his back. Phelps confirmed he used Cup Therapy for an increased range of motion and stimulated blood flow. The medical term for Cup Therapy is Myofascial Decompression. Since then, Myofascial Decompression has grown increasingly popular amongst athletes and people with movement restrictions and pain. Now, you can experience Myofascial Decompression in Sacramento with Performance Physical Therapy!
Traditional cupping was used to bring balance to the Qi (Chee). Myofascial Decompression, practiced by physical therapists, is very different from traditional cupping. The goals of Myofascial Decompression do not include the Qi but instead increasing flexibility and blood flow.
Myofascial Decompression in Sacramento!
Recently, some of our team members went to a Level 1 and Level 2 Myofascial Course presented by the Bay Area Sports Performance & Rehabilitation to learn more about Myofascial Decompression. As a result, you can receive Myofascial Decompression in Sacramento at Performance Physical Therapy. In this interview, Jennifer O’Toole, Physical Therapy Assistant, and Mallory McGowan, Doctor of Physical Therapy, share some of what they learned and how they plan to incorporate Myofascial Decompression in their practices.
What is Myofascial Decompression? Mallory and Jennifer Explain
What does Myofascial Decompression do and what does it help alleviate?
Mallory: “Myofascial Decompression is the only modality in manual medicine that is decompressive in nature. The negative pressure forces allow for increases in space in the musculoskeletal system for improved tissue gliding and mobility. This can help alleviate pain, nerve compression, tight muscles, and stiffness in joints.”
What surprised you most about the Myofascial Course presented by the Bay Area Sports Performance & Rehabilitation?
Jennifer: “I was surprised about how immediate the results were following Myofascial decompression! I have always had tight hamstrings and am rarely able to touch my toes without bending my knees. My hamstring length improved significantly following the treatment. It is important to note this is not the magic treatment–exercise and compliance with a home program is the key to maintain the increases in the range of motion. This technique has been around since 2010. We were lucky enough to be taught by Christopher DePrato, DPT and his team who developed the technique specifically for athletic trainers and physical therapists.”
Mallory: “What surprised me most was how often Christopher DaPrato used this technique in his practice. He mainly works with athletes at UC Berkeley and UCSF. He also has multiple contracts with other minor and major league sports teams. This greatly intrigued me as I was a collegiate athlete. It also really surprised me how immediate the results were in terms of the change in the range of motion and reduced pain levels! Within only 5 minutes there were results!”
What are two main differences between traditional Cupping and modern Myofascial Decompression?
Mallory: “Traditional Cupping originated with the Egyptians and spread throughout Europe and Asia hundreds of years ago. This technique can take up to 20 minutes and is not based on movement patterns. The main use was to balance Qi (pronounced Chee), release toxins and to draw out pain and mental dysfunction. Modern cup therapy focuses on movement patterns within the muscular planes to improve flexibility and function through active movement and strengthening. This new technique heavily focuses on neuromuscular re-education and strengthening the targeted muscles. This helps essentially “set” the improved mobility and can maintain the motion by up to 60-75% throughout the next week. Studies show that without this neuromuscular re-education, patients only maintained about 10% of their improved mobility into the next week.”
Is there a common misconception about Myofascial Decompression?
Jennifer: “A common misconception about cup therapy is that it is a passive modality. Many patients are surprised when I first start moving patients through their available range of motion or have them perform active movements.”
Mallory: “One common misconception is it is very painful. Another is that we use fire and other objects to gain mobility and reduce pain. Yes, it can be uncomfortable and feel very tight, however, we can release air in the cups easily to reduce some of the discomforts.”
Thinking of our patients, who can benefit most from Myofascial Decompression?
Mallory: “Anybody with movement restrictions (tight muscles and stiff joints) and pain can benefit from Myofascial Decompression. However, there are precautions and contraindications to Myofascial Decompression for some patients. These patients include those who have active cancer, very high blood pressure, and circulation problems, are on blood thinners, are pregnant, and who have diabetes or very thin/cracked skin. It is important to check with patients on these issues before initiating a Myofascial Decompression session.”
What tools do you use for Myofascial Decompression?
Jennifer: “The Myofascial Decompression kit contains a variety of sized decompressors meant to fixate easily to any part of the body. A pneumatic pump creates a negative pressure environment within the cup. Prior to application, apply lotion to the skin for increased patient comfort and more suction. After a Myofascial Decompression session, I often use my hands or a stainless steel instrument to gently massage the areas that were decompressed.”
Does Myofascial Decompression hurt?
Jennifer: “When the decompressors (cups) are applied they feel very tight on the skin. It does not reproduce pain. The tightness overrides the pain sensors a patient may have been feeling prior to application. This works through the gate control theory of pain, meaning the application of a non-painful stimulus (tightness from the decompressors) closes the “gates” to painful input, which prevents pain sensation from traveling to the central nervous system. Therefore, stimulation by a non-noxious input is able to suppress pain. Following taking the decompressors off, patients often feel a greater, pain-free ROM.”
What should a patient possibly expect following Myofascial Decompression?
Jennifer: “Following Myofascial Decompression, a patient should expect localized circular bruises from where the decompressors were applied. There may be some localized soreness/tenderness in the treated area. Expect to exercise immediately following application with significant education on the importance of compliance in their home exercise program! Neuro re-education following cup therapy decreases the “bobblehead effect” which often leave patients feeling loose or weak feeling in the treatment area. Strengthening is key to avoid this effect.”
If you tried Myofascial Decompression, what did it feel like? How many days did it take for the bruising to go away?
Mallory: “It felt like a tight pinching and with active movement can be very uncomfortable, though generally is tolerable. It is always possible to release some of the air to reduce the discomfort and still gain mobility and function. Bruising can go away within a week, although sometimes longer if people had dense capillary tissue in the area.”
Jennifer: “Myofascial Decompression feels tight and somewhat uncomfortable while the decompressors are applied. Following treatment, it felt much looser. I experienced more range of motion with less pain at the end-range following.”
Anything else we should know about?
Mallory: “Many people wonder why some show deeper coloring versus others. In the course, we learned different types of skin and different people can show deeper colors. This has nothing to do with how effective the treatment is, or how impaired the tissue is. Some people simply have areas of their skin more densely packed with small blood vessels. Pimples, blackheads, or other examples of clogged pores can become released with the cups. This is why it is not really alarming if some blood forms in the cup.”
- This process is very different from traditional cupping
- Myofascial Decompression can help athletes as well as anybody with movement restrictions (tight muscles and stiff joints) and pain
- Myofascial Decompression is not a miracle and includes neuro re-education and an exercise program
- Despite the bruises, Myofascial Decompression doesn’t hurt
- If you live in the Sacramento region, Myofascial Decompression in Sacramento is now accessible at our clinics
Interested in learning more about Myofascial Decompression and if it can help you?
Performance Physical Therapy, Sacramento region’s favorite Physical Therapy team, now offers Cup Therapy in Sacramento. With appointments available within 24 hours, you can book your Physical Therapy, Aquatic Therapy, Hand Therapy and Vestibular Rehabilitation appointment and begin treatment quickly. We proudly serve in four locations: Folsom, Roseville, Rancho Cordova and J street In East Sacramento as well as their surrounding cities such as Midtown, Auburn, Rocklin, Elk Grove, Antelope, and Citrus Heights. Let us help you live your most mobile life and get you back to doing the activities you love. Please call us today if you have any questions about Cup Therapy in Sacramento.