What is Myofascial Decompression?

Myofascial decompression evolved from a technique called cupping therapy.  Cupping initially dates back to ancient Greece and is commonly practiced in traditional Chinese medicine.  There are a few types of cupping:  dry cupping uses a suctioning effect without skin perforation, as opposed to wet cupping that involves superficial bleeding.  From the cupping, the patient will experience ecchymosis from the suction that may last a few weeks.

In physical therapy we integrate dry cupping to achieve myofascial decompression.  Myofascial decompression techniques are designed to treat muscle imbalances and range of motion restrictions so that the patient can optimize his or her biomechanics. By targeting these limitations, physical therapists use active movement/stretching in conjunction with the cups so that the patient can overcome compensatory patterns and achieve correct movement patterns.  MFD is designed to lift the fascia and adhesions to open up space in hopes of increasing blood flow, promoting proper physiological exchanges and improving overall myofascial action.


There is a lack of published evidence supporting the effects of MFD secondary to the absence of a control group and therefore potentially inducing a placebo effect.  Despite this, there have been randomized control trials showing the benefits of MFD with carpal tunnel syndrome, knee osteoarthritis, and low back and neck pain but it is important not to ignore the faults in these studies in making clinical decisions.


Regardless, using MFD with cupping is just another tool in our physical therapy tool box that can help achieve normalized motion without compressing the tissue.  Ask your Wallace & Nilan PT if MFD is right for you!