Cupping Therapy for the Lower Back

Materials needed: Cupping set, coconut oil, or massage oil.

In today’s video, we will go over how to use cupping therapy for the lower back. Cupping is a great way to relieve muscle tension and pain by releasing fascial adhesion and increasing blood flow to an area. Releasing fascial adhesion and increasing blood flow increases circulation, loosens tight muscles, and promotes overall healing.

First, you’ll want to get your cups set up. Dr. Ulery recommends plastic suction cups for home use, as they are generally safer and easier to use than glass bulbs. Most cupping sets come with several sizes of cups. The larger diameter cups are for broader surface areas, and the smaller cups are for smaller surface areas. Dr. Ulery prefers to start by placing the larger diameter cups along the lower back in pairs. The amount of suction you should use depends on the sensitivity of the person receiving the cupping therapy. Dr. Ulery recommends using 1-3 pumps of the suction handle. You will notice that the tissue is raised, which should be only slightly uncomfortable, if at all. You can partially release the cup by pulling the center valve or start over if the suction is too tight or the cup comes loose. 

Leave the cups on for 3 to 10 minutes depending on the patient’s condition, and then remove them by releasing the cup valve. After removing the first set of cups, Dr. Ulery recommends placing smaller diameter cups along the center of the lower back directly over the spine. You can leave these cups on for 3-10 minutes and remove them by releasing the cup valve. You can also pull the tissue next to the cup as you release the cup valve to make it as comfortable for the patient as possible. Keep in mind that the suction created by the cups may cause redness and bruising; this happens often and is mostly painless.

Another way to use cupping on the lower back is to apply a little bit of oil on the skin and move the cup around while it is applied. For this method, you can use a small amount of coconut oil or the oil included with your cupping set and then apply a smaller diameter cup with about one pump of suction. You may have to try different sizes of cups and different levels of suction depending on what works best for the person receiving the therapy. The cup should move without too much resistance across the skin and should only be slightly painful when moved, if at all.  

In addition to treating musculoskeletal issues, cupping can be used by an acupuncturist to treat various other health conditions such as respiratory issues, digestive issues, and cramping related to PMS.

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