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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Got Issues in Your Tissues?

Today's blog post is an interview with Shannon Gilmartin, instructor for ACE Massage Cupping.
I hosted a workshop with Shannon at my studio a few years ago and absolutely LOVED her class.  I still use cupping every day in my massage practice, and my clients love it.

What exactly is massage cupping and how is it different from traditional chinese medicine cupping?Massage cupping is a modern adaptation of the ancient cupping therapies. We use cups to mimic massage techniques and as an adjunct, therapeutic technique.

What are the benefits to the client to use massage cupping?
Benefits vary widely, as massage cupping is truly as versatile a therapy as is each massage therapist. Its benefits include lymphatic drainage, loosening adhesions (from small cellulite dimpling to scar tissue and fascial bindings), moving stagnant materials/decongesting areas of the body, stimulating blood flow, hydrating and nourishing tissues that are otherwise lacking, relieving inflammation, releasing deep tissue restrictions, and sedating the nervous system. Clients receive therapeutic massage for so many different reasons and I truly think every client can enjoy this technique. Ever since I began working with massage cupping, EVERY client I have used them on has enjoyed the work and its results! Great descriptions I have heard from clients are that they feel 'more fluid mobility,' 'aired out' or that their tissue has 'breathing room' from massage cupping- how great does THAT sound!?

What are the benefits to the therapist?
The therapist benefits extensively, too. For one, massage cupping is a major vasodilator so the therapist saves their efforts to warm the tissue of their clients. Also, many of us have those clients who LOVE deep tissue but the therapists get burnt out, overuse their thumbs and struggle while the clients keep saying they can go deeper. The cups allow for quick hyperemia and hydration to their client's tissue, thereby allowing for much deeper sensations to be felt by the client with less exertion from the therapist. Also, the client feels MUCH better the next day. Many deep tissue clients feel tender and sore the following day(s) but the cups allow for much easier after effects with phenomenal, lasting results. That being said, many of us want to help our clients so very much and the results from using cups appropriately truly enable us to help release restrictions effectively and in many cases give permanent resolution!

How long have you been a therapist and how long have you been teaching?
I have been in the massage therapy business since 1999, working with Massage Cupping since 2004, and teaching with A.C.E. as an educator since 2008.

How did you come across massage cupping?
Funny yet true story: I saw an ad in a magazine for a class in Las Vegas. I wanted to go to Vegas and see my friend, learn about this technique that used fire, and the whole trip would be for business! Little did I know what a life changing experience the class would be.

Why did you decide to start teaching it?
When I left the class, I began practicing on myself and the results were amazing. I had been in a severe car accident when I was 17 and had a very large scar on my cheek and many muscular discomforts associated with the accident. I committed to working on myself regularly for a while; it began softening the rigid adhesions and scar tissue, and drew glass and sand out of the scar. Eventually my face looked almost 'normal' again. I contacted Anita Shannon with my enthusiastic testimonial and asked if they were ever interested in someone to help them... and here I am :)

What conditions have you successfully treated with massage cupping?
Wow, honestly too many to list. A few stellar examples: I am passionate about the scar tissue work and over the course of a year’s constant work, I helped dissolve 30-year, almost full-body, scar tissue (client had gastric bypass over 30 years ago, and followed by a brutal skin removal surgery which left thick rope-like scars from elbows to knees)! I am also passionate about working with amputees and have had amazing results with not only alleviating phantom pains but also helping purge the old blood, debris and medications from the remaining limb's tissue. The pulmonary results have been impressive; I have a COPD client who 'breathes because of me' and I have been able to help improve her quality of life, It is such rewarding work! I have helped avoid surgeries to 'clean out the area' for all natures of injuries. Athletes have quickly recovered from both injuries and intense sporting events – with enhanced performance, too! Post plastic surgery clients have accelerated healing from the drainage done with the cups. Diabetic, necrotic tissue that goes from open fissures and black tissue to no fissures and light brown coloration! And of course, there are people who say 'I can handle the deepest pressure you can give me.' I first use the cups a little, then BARELY give them DEEP work and they say WHOA!!! See!? I could go on and on. 

What do you like best about teaching massage cupping?
Sharing this awesome technique and its potential, and then seeing every student just GET IT. Every class, every student truly enjoys it and I see 'light bulbs' every time! It is so rewarding to be able to help pass this along because (I believe) every body can benefit from this in some capacity.

I am honored to work with Anita Shannon and the other educators in A.C.E., as I honestly feel our work changes lives. Words cannot convey the reward we get day in and day out from people all over the world and seeing how much our work helps. Cupping is as old as time, but these techniques Anita created and how we all cohesively came to share massage cupping and vacutherapies as both educators and bodyworkers is by far the most rewarding experience I have had.

My website is; our national website is We offer classes all year long, everywhere!!

A huge thanks to Shannon for this interview and for the awesome class she taught at my studio!

Check out this video of some massage cupping done by founder Anita Shannon:

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling. 

She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 14 years.


  1. I'm a believer and an advocate for the benefits of massage cupping. I started using it about six weeks ago. I had been suffering with severe knee pain, which I thought was arthritis, and hip bursitis. Most days, it was painful to walk, and that was not conducive to the life I desired. Chronic pain affects your life in a multitude of negative ways and I was not seeking a pharmaceutical to make it all better.
    After two weeks of both static cupping and massage cupping, my hip and knee pain were gone. I did massage cupping using silicone cups. Yes, you can feel when you find the "gravel" road. And yes, you can feel the difference when that road smooths out.
    The side benefits, aside from the pain relief, cellulite reduction and to my surprise, fewer gray hairs. This is a WIN/WIN therapy, and one you'll probably never get recommended from your M.D. It's simple, with a nominal time and financial commitment. It worked for me.