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Myofascial release with Acupuncture and Cupping

Myofascial release for pain and muscle recovery

Have you ever heard of myofascial release? Myofascial release is a safe and effective treatment for releasing tension out of the fascia and muscles. There are several techniques for releasing fascia; including massage, acupuncture, stretching, & cupping to name a few. What is Fascia? Fascia is a very densely wound tissue, like a network of spider webs, that surrounds our muscles, organs, nerves, veins, arteries and bones. This tissue wraps our internal structures and connects us from head to toe. The Latin meaning for fascia is “bands together”. Fascia is a connective tissue that can be found in 1, 2 or even 3 layers around some organs. Fascia is so strong that  professional tennis players used fascia from cows for their rackets. Surgeons used fascia from sheep guts to tie surgical knots. “Fascia is almost impenetrable to most biological substances, and it is not only a electrical conductor and resistor, it generates its own electricity, its piezoelectric. Fascia is so impermeable that almost everything slides down it: water, air, blood, bus and electricity The Spark in the Machine” “Piezoelectric effect is the ability of certain materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress”. The myofascial planes correlate with the acupuncture meridians and could help explain the instant impact distal points have on other areas of the body. The book Anatomy Trains has some great illustrations of the fascial planes in our body.

Myofascial release with Acupuncture

Acupuncture distal points at the hands, elbows, knees and ankles are frequently used in clinic to treat acute pain. There are several acupuncture points around the elbows & hands that work instantly for acute neck pain and can improve range of motion in seconds. I use these every day in the clinic and it amazes me how fast it works. Large intestine 11 located at the elbow and large intestine 3 located proximal to the MCP joint on the radial side of the index finger will usually help acute neck pain if pain increases by looking up. Small intestine 3 and Small intestine 8 work for acute neck pain when the pain increases by looking down. First assess range of motion in the neck and where the pain increases; ie looking up or down, or looking to the left or right, or a combination of looking up/down and to the right or left. If pain increases looking left use the acupuncture meridians on the right arm, if pain increases looking right, use the left arm. Use a teishin for acupressure and press on these points to see if the pain or ROM improves. You will be looking for a 25-75% improvement in pain or ROM. If pain decreases or ROM improves with teishin then that is the point you should needle. Find the ONE point that is the most reactive and improves ROM or pain. I will usually place a tac to leave in for a few days at this point.  These are a only a few examples and not the only points that work for acute neck pain, by a long shot, but these are commonly used and work well. Myofascial release with acupuncture is usually instantaneous and does not require deep or painful massage or deep needling. This is explained in the Sports Acupuncture The meridian test and its application. This book is a great resource for sports medicine, sports injuries, and acute pain.

Myofascial release with cupping

Cupping is another tool acupuncturist, massage therapists, & physical therapist use for myofascial release. Cupping dates back thousands of years in Chinese medicine history and was also used by the Egyptians. Cupping provides a vacuum on the skin that is created with fire, known as fire cupping, or with cups that have a pump to increase the pressure. This can feel wonderful on tight and spasm muscles. Cupping has some limitations and should not be used if patients are on blood thinners or have thin skin. I prefer to use a sliding cupping style that creates less purple marks and less blood stagnation in patients. The vacuum pressure helps to pull toxins up and out of tissues while opening up your capillaries and increasing blood flow simultaneously. Cupping works well for the musculoskeletal system and releasing fascia but has an interesting affect on the internal  organs as well. Cupping along the thoracic spine can improve asthma and help with acute respiratory infections. Cupping and acupuncture have been used for internal diseases for thousands of years and has with stood the test of time.

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