Maggie Nolan is a fully qualified Remedial massage therapist with over 15 years experience in the industry.
Time to Unwind - Chinese Cupping, Dry Needling and Hot Stone
Chinese CuppingWhat is cupping?
Cupping is an ancient Chinese form of alternative therapy in which a local suction is created on the skin; it is believed that the drawing up of the skin and superficial muscle layers is of benefit as it mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing.
I use it in conjunction with my regular massage techniques to soften, release, and bring blood flow and Qi (energy) to the otherwise tight, immobile or stagnant area I am working on.
Once the cups are placed, they can be gently moved across the skin, I find this method beneficial as a Myofasical release technique.
When Cupping Therapy is applied to tight rotator cuff muscles, Myofascial Release is accomplished, stretching the thickened fascia away from the underlying structures, allowing for greater shoulder movement.
Cupping Therapy creates a negative pressure suction over the twisted bundles of the Trigger Points, breaking up the adhesions, painlessly and without the discomfort of force.
Cupping is much like the inverse of massage - rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. It is quite relaxing and does not hurt. The cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes, the cups can be placed to target acupuncture points, and painful areas to provide relief through pressure.
Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, trigger points, migraines, and even cellulite.
Does cupping hurt?
Cupping does not hurt and is quite relaxing. After I have applied oil and massaged the area of need, the cups will then be put in place. I use a technique called air cupping, in which a small hand-operated pump is attached to a valve on the top of the cup, a suction is formed to pull the muscle into the cup, as seen in the photos.
The cups are left for around 10 minutes, or I may decide to massage with the cups by gliding them over the skin and muscle. The effect of the cups may cause some swelling and bruising on the skin, as the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand, causing small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless, and disappear within a few days of treatment.
When cupping should not be used
There are several instances where cupping should not be performed.
Inflamed or open wounds on the skin.
Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back.
If the cups are being moved, they should not cross bony areas, such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades.
Cupping when done correctly, is very beneficial for soft tissue release and relaxation.
Trigger point therapy
Trigger points, are a type of muscle stiffness, they are the result of tiny contractions (knots) that develop in muscle and tissue when an area of the body is injured or overworked. Trigger points are known to refer pain to other parts of your body.
Trigger points can occur as a result of muscle trauma (from car accidents, falls, sports- and work-related injuries, etc.), muscle strain from repetitive movements at work or play, postural strain from standing or sitting improperly for long periods at the computer, emotional stress, anxiety, allergies, nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, and toxins in the environment. A single event can initiate a trigger point, and you can suffer the effects for the rest of your life if that trigger point is not addressed properly.
With any of the modalities I have learnt, I will incorporate as much of the learnt techniques that I can in that session, therefore; I use a combination of tools or techniques I have gathered over the years as a massage therapist and trigger point therapy are just some of those tools.
Dry NeedlingNew to My clinic
I am very excited to have completed my certificate in the practice of dry needling. I have been a massage therapist for the last 20 years, within that time I have worked very hard to give the best treatments I can possibility give with all the skills and knowledge I have gained throughout the years.
Having dry needling as another skill I can use to help in the release of trigger points in combination with my regular massage techniques, has been so beneficial to myself and my clients.
Dry needling targets trigger points, which are area of tight taught bands within muscle fibres, they cause pain, limited range of movement and can affect our day to day lives. Everybody experiences trigger points, whether they be latent, meaning; they are only felt with palpation. Latent trigger points if not treated through, massage, dry needling, stretching etc, can turn into an Active trigger point, which are painful, tender to touch and can limit you range of motion.
Dry needling is a very safe and relaxing process. In some cases, a needle being inserted into a trigger point muscle can create a slight ache, but there is no sharp or excessive pain, it may feel as if you accidentally prick your finger. After a dry needling session, you may feel a little tired, as after a rigorous exercise session, but there are no lingering effects and most people are able to continue with their day (including playing sports) as normal.
Many people respond positively to dry needling almost at once, finding that the problem muscles are less taut and contracted, and that they are able to move with more freedom; in some cases, it may take a day or two for the benefits to be felt. Several sessions of dry needling will be required for a lasting benefit to be felt and for the muscle to fully resume normal function. This is because trigger points are often located under deep layers of muscle and so it takes several sessions for the changes in the muscle to take full effect.
Dry needling is therefore a very effective means of addressing a wide range of acute and chronic conditions that cause pain or hinder mobility, and is suitable for treating a number of musculoskeletal dysfunctions, such as: back and neck pain; hamstring problems; headaches; muscular tightness; shin splints; and sporting injuries.
Hot Stone TherapyWhat is hot stone massage?
Imagine laying on a massage table, letting your stress and anxieties melt away as your muscles are therapeutically massaged with basalt hot stones. A regular deep tissue massage is incredibly relaxing, but the addition of hot stones makes hot stone massage therapy an increasingly popular.
I like to, as with all my treatments, use a combination of massage techniques together with my hot stone massage. The premise behind this is that the direct heat of the stones relaxes soft tissue and deeper muscle layers. Combining hot stone protocols with a full body massage provides a very healing and effective experience.
The hot stones also expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body. The hot stones have a sedative effect that can relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation.
Benefits of Hot Stone
Provides relief from pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, frozen shoulder and other chronic conditions
Decreases pain and muscle spasms
Reduces chronic stress and tension
Increases flexibility in joints, aiding in easier mobility and movement
Relieves pain and tension created by strained and contracted muscles
The stones used for a hot stone massage are usually basalt stones which are chalky grey in colour but turn dark once oil is applied to them. The stones are heated to 130 degrees F. and placed strategically along the spine. I will then gently rub the stone into muscles and tissues, the firmness of the stone couples with the heat enhance the therapeutic benefits of the massage.