Last week I got the opportunity to try out Myofascial Decompression, commonly known as Cup Therapy, thanks to one of our PTAs, Jennifer O’Toole. I have always been curious about what it feels like and how it impacts the area that is cupped. Two months ago, I got knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus and my knee has been a bit stiff since. I wanted to see how Myofascial Decompression would feel on my knee and if it would change anything.
Myofascial Decompression is a technique that uses suction to create a vacuum that separates the skin and tissue underneath. This helps break up scar tissue, increase mobility, and release stiffness. Jennifer explained that the most important part of this cup therapy is that it makes it easier to do Physical Therapy exercises which results in even more mobility and a pain-free lifestyle. In fact, she explained that if you use Myofascial Decompression and then do your home exercises you can regain up to 60% mobility whereas if you don’t exercise after you’ll regain maybe 10% of your mobility. Basically, using the cups and then continuing Physical Therapy and home exercises is the best treatment plan if you choose to use Myofascial Decompression.
I was nervous and thought the cups going on my leg would really hurt but they didn’t, it just felt like a pinch and there was some pressure. The weirdest part about the process was seeing my skin pulled up under the cup; it looked strange. You could see the areas where my leg was holding tension.
While the cups were on she had me move my leg around, explaining that this led to neuromuscular re-education, which means that your muscles and nerves are taught how to move normally again, thus helping to restore mobility. This is a highly important step in Myofascial Decompression and is what separates it from other forms of Cup Therapy. Being active while the cups are on retrains your muscles.
The cups stayed on for about a minute and then she ran them up and down my thigh before releasing them. She explained that this helps break up more tension in the leg. Then, she let out the air and took them off. All that was left was 5 circular bruises where the cups had been. They disappeared a few days later don’t worry!
Right away, I felt that the tension in my leg had been reduced. She had taken measurements before and after the cups and we found that I had instantly regained almost 15 degrees of mobility! It was really satisfying to see some instant results. In the pictures below you can see that my leg naturally bends much further after I had the cups on my leg.
Since this experience, I have been keeping up with my exercises and I can honestly say my knee feels a lot better. It was the right choice for me because it released tension right away, made it easier to do my exercises, and left me with some cool looking bruises. Talk to your Physical Therapist today to see it Myofascial Decompression is right for you!