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Suction cups used for therapy

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Connersville native Hannah Clark offers cupping therapy to her clients. In this photo, she puts special section cups on a client’s back.
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Cups are placed on a client for several minutes to relieve pain.

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

Practitioners of an ancient therapy called cupping say the temporary round spots it leaves on the skin are well worth it.

A local massage therapist uses cupping to provide relief for muscle strain, pain and inflammation and other ailments.

Hannah Clark, a licensed massage therapist of three years, offers this form of alternative medicine. She puts special cups on a person’s skin for several minutes to create suction. People say the deep-tissue massage helps with pain, inflammation, blood flow and relaxation.

“I have been practicing cupping about a year,” Clark said. “Cupping offers so many benefits. I had some shoulder issues and back surgery when I was younger and always had back pain. Cupping was one of the only things that helped me. I wanted to bring this to other people to take their pain away. The overall benefits are anywhere from pain relief to immunity support.”

Cupping is different than a regular massage.

“Normally when we do a traditional massage we are pushing into the muscles. With cupping it gets deeper and it also pulls up on the tissue rather than pushing down. Anytime people have tight muscles that are pressing on nerves, it helps in that sense,” she said.

“It pulls fresh blood, oxygen, nutrients into those tissues and within the blood, the plasma and platelets help aid in restoring new tissue and increasing range of motion. It gets blood flow going through the entire body like a regular massage. Sometimes it helps with your immune system, digestion, there are so many benefits to cupping. I haven’t even explored all the possibilities yet.”

Most anyone can try cupping therapy.

“The only people who shouldn’t get a cupping massage are pregnant women or someone who has had more than one blood clot,” Clark said. “Anyone at any age can get them. I used to work on a lot of athletes in Indianapolis; it helped them with recovery.

“It increases range of motion, I saw a lot of knee and shoulder problems and was able to help fix them. You can have it done before an event and after. A lot of people come in with injuries of some sort and think they can take a muscle relaxer and it is going to help, but what happens is the muscle attaches to a bone or ligament, it is going to be pulling on those bones and ligaments. A muscle relaxer isn’t going to strip that out of your muscles.”

Most people are intimidated by it. A frequent question is whether it hurts. Clark assures her clients it doesn’t.

“Some people say it is relaxing but most come in to help with relief and pain. It isn’t painful at all, it feels just like a little pressure,” Clark said.

Heather Moore, a fellow massage therapist and owner of Angel Oak Reflexology and Massage where Clark works, is having therapy done to her shoulder.

“It actually feels good,” Moore said. “It feels wonderful and it helps tremendously. You can feel it pull the muscle and not push it. ... I felt relief after my first session. My range of motion is so much better. Before my shoulder rotation was very limited,” she said.

Clark leaves the cups on for 8-15 minutes.

“It just depends on the person. Every session is a little different for everybody,” Clark said. “Most clients will have bruises on their skin. Sometimes they are darker and sometimes lighter, they last only a few days. People will show up all different colors just depending on what toxins they have going on or their blood flow. Cupping can be done on any part of the body. Usually people aren’t sore after a cupping session.”