Monday, May 27, 2013

How Cupping Therapy Relieves the Pain of Work-Related, Repetitive Patterns

by Nina Dropcho

Although it has been practiced by Middle and Far East cultures for centuries, cupping therapy is relatively new to the U.S. Cupping therapy, or just “cupping”, is a natural, non-invasive therapy that treats a variety of ailments, including work-related aches and pains.

The deep physical roots of work-related tension.

Work that constrains one to a desk, or a prolonged position, is physically damaging. When the body is used in a repetitive way, connective tissue becomes restricted. Adhesions of connective tissue (those pesky “knots”) glue down to the bones and other structures. This creates inflammation and pain.

The adhesions, over time, harden like dried glue. The not-so-soft tissue loses its elasticity and a state of chronic inflammation sets in. These restriction and adhesion cycles create microtrauma in the body’s tissues that gradually accumulates.

These patterns of stuck tissues are a large component of repetitive stress injuries.

But that is only part of the physical damage!

We heed pain because it is hard to ignore. But there are other physical consequences of repetitive stress due to work. If your work posture keeps you in a forward-flexed state, then the tissue throughout your torso and hips is also getting restricted.

Your soft tissue is like a tapestry of tissues, organs, and systems. A snag in the tapestry affects many structures.

If you sit in the same position for long periods of time, the connective tissue that covers and connects organs gets shortened and restricted. This puts strain on the organs, themselves, and on the nerves and blood vessels that feed them. This can impede organ function, such as:
·        Breathing
·        Digestion
·        Urination, Elimination
·        Circulation, and
·        Menstruation and Fertility

The psychological ties to physically-stressful work.

With all of the physical manifestations of work-related stress, it can be easy to overlook the psychological consequences. Physical constraints on blood flow, lymph flow, and nerves have almost-immediate effects on one’s mental abilities and emotions.

Mood, energy, and ability to concentrate may all be diminished. These problems become amplified if sleep is a concurrent problem.

Of course, the lack of physical activity or variety of activity, can impact one’s sleep. So, in addition to all the tension building up, you might also be coping with a cascade of problems related to fatigue and sleep deprivation!

Long-term solutions.

Surgery and medications are not viable long-term solutions. They address the symptoms but neglect the cause. Without treating the cause, the problems remain and often, worsen.

They also cause side effects and secondary problems like scar tissue (remember the snags in the tapestry analogy? Scar tissue is the “least-fixable” snag in that connective tissue web).

Instead, work station and activity modifications are critical for long-term resolution. You can take more activity breaks at work. You can keep exercise gear at your work station. And you can adapt your work station for better ergonomics. Lately, more companies are fitting their offices with treadmill work stations. Ultimately, many workers change careers entirely to improve their health, when making these modifications is not an option.

Short-term and transition solutions.

Once healthier modifications are in place, it’s time to address the immediate problems of pain and inflammation. Increased exercise will reduce symptoms and start reversing the damage.

Massage therapy relieves both physical and psychological stress. Massage relieves muscular tension and pain. It also improves sleep and attention span, and alleviates depression.

Some styles of massage, such as myofascial release, can break up the adhesions and snagged connective tissue. Prolonged treatments are recommended to hold the results.

Massage can provide both immediate relief, and a transition back to an overall healthier state.

Cupping therapy is an effective treatment for the physical and psychological effects or repetitive, work-related health problems.

Immediate relief from cupping therapy.

Cupping is a natural therapy that has recently seen a surge in popularity in the U.S. Cupping involves the application of suction to the skin, using cups, to decompress tissues. Tissues expand to fill the cup, taking pressure off underlying structures.

As cups are applied, the flow of blood and lymph, and nerve pathways, are greatly enhanced. The boost to circulation provides fresh blood and oxygen to tissues. Inflammation, ischemia, and stagnation are cleared. Tissues regain internal nourishment.

glass cup, cupping therapy, middle upper back to relieve pain, nina boulder
Applying a fire cup to the middle and upper back to relieve pain
As cupping powerfully replenishes tissues, it can often be sedating! Clients often describe waves of relaxation as they “get cupped”.

Long-term benefits of cupping therapy.

In Eastern cultures, the all-encompassing term for the body’s energies is “qi”. Qi refers to life force, blood flow, lymph movement, and nerve transmission. Qi is a great term to express limitations in any of these systems because they are all interrelated. Again, qi is like the tapestry analogy: restrictions in one area necessitate restrictions in all areas!

Eastern medicine, therefore, describes the greatest benefit of cupping as moving stagnant qi. To Eastern practitioners, healthy flow of qi is vital to health and cannot be separated by body systems.

An additional benefit to cupping is its ability to restore connective tissue. Cupping can soften the restrictions, the “snags”. It can return elasticity to connective tissue and dissipate adhesions, or “knots”. Cupping is a unique style of myofascial release.

By decompressing the tissue, cupping opens pathways and vessels. Compression, on the other hand, can have a detrimental effect on tissues that are already over-compressed. Compression is also limited to the therapists’ abilities, whereas decompression can be controlled by cups and suction applied.

Your cupping session and self-care.

There are many styles of cupping, but an effective treatment (for the health problems described above) would include both stationary and dynamic cupping. Stationary cupping is when cups are suctioned to an area and left to sit there for a few minutes (see picture below). Prolonged application will work on connective tissue restoration.

glass fire cups, cupping therapy to restore tissues of back torso, nina boulder
Fire cups sitting stationary on middle and upper back to restore tissues

Dynamic cupping involves cup movement. It can be relaxing, even sedating, when applied with long strokes (like effleurage of Swedish massage). Dynamic cupping boosts circulation and balances qi.

Cupping can have deep and long-lasting effects. To feel your best after a cupping session, drink extra pure water and eat only nutritious foods for the week afterward. You may need extra rest, extra warmth and skin coverage, and a decrease in rigorous exercise, as your body balances itself.

Cupping, natural therapies, and changes in work activity can
restore you to better health and balance!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Breathe Easier with Facial Cupping

            One of the world’s oldest natural therapies, cupping can be applied to the face to help you breathe easier. Cupping can open breathing pathways to help with a variety of respiratory challenges. Facial cupping is especially helpful in clearing the fine air particles that can clog sinuses.
            Receive facial cupping therapy if any of these affect your breathing or cause you sinus congestion:
  • Frequent colds with nasal symptoms
  • Sinus problems 
  •  Seasonal Allergies and pollen 
  •  Air Pollution and toxins such as paint, fuel exhaust 
  • Irritants like dust 
  •  Agriculture-derived particulates such as pesticides, dust, fertilizers
facial cupping therapy for clear sinuses better breathing
Facial cupping for clearer sinuses and better breathing

What is facial cupping?
            Facial cupping is cupping therapy applied directly to the face. Cupping therapy is a natural healing therapy that dates back thousands of years. Every culture around the world has engaged in some form of cupping.
            Cupping involves the placement of a cup (or hollowed object) onto the skin, with a vacuum to draw skin and tissue up into the cup. The vacuum, or negative pressure, draws underlying tissues outward. This moves stagnant fluids, bringing fresh oxygen and blood to organs and tissues. Lymph flow and circulation are enhanced. Soft tissue restrictions and adhered tissues (“knots”) loosen and relax. Organs and underlying structures are able to move more freely.
            Cupping can be done on any part of the body, applied directly to the skin.

How does facial cupping work?
            When facial cupping, the cupping therapist applies cups over the nasal and sinus areas. Cups are gently and evenly applied across an area. Unlike cupping on other areas of the body, facial cupping may be applied more gently and with small, frequent applications. Facial cups are also much smaller than cups used on other body parts.
            Sinuses and nasal passages sit close to the skin. Therefore, the cupping therapist does not need to apply much suction to achieve great results. While receiving cupping, clients often describe the immediate feeling of open sinuses and deeper breathing.
            If your nasal and sinus passages are clogged with toxins or particles, you may experience extra mucus production after your cupping session. You may cough or spit frequently for a few hours after the treatment. This is good! Your body is trying to clear out the trapped airways so it can function better, so you can breathe easier!
            Cupping therapy can be intensely therapeutic. To feel your best before and after your facial cupping therapy, drink plenty of pure water. The day of your treatment, avoid smog or air that may induce respiratory distress.

            Sinus troubles? Nasal congestion? Get facial cupping therapy and Breathe Easy!
by Nina Dropcho

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DETOX CUPPING: Cleanse and Detoxify with Cupping

Does your body need a little "Spring Cleaning"? Cupping Therapy is a great way to detoxify!
Cupping uses vacuum pressure on the skin to move stagnant qi, bringing fresh blood and oxygen to underlying tissues. Cupping can be relaxing, stimulating, and detoxifying.
The amount of detoxification you will get from a cupping treatment will vary per individual: it can be mild and gently cleansing, or you can request a session to focus on detoxification. A session for DETOX CUPPING will include abdominal cupping, a series of cups applied to the belly, liver, gall bladder, colon and other digestive organs, and cupping on the back to open airways and detoxify the lungs.

If you get cupping in other areas, it can also be mildly detoxifying. For example, you can get facial cupping to relieve allergies and open sinuses, but the increased blood flow to the face & upper body can be detoxifying.

cupping therapy for low back pain detoxification detox abdominal
Cupping for low back pain relief and abdominal therapy
How much you detox when you get cupped depends a lot on the stagnation in your tissues. In the facial cupping example, if you had past injuries to the face or head, such as sinus surgeries, whiplash, or scar tissue in the jaw or TMJ, you may feel a more detoxifying effect than if you had cupping to an area with no past injuries.

Another way to detoxify: ESSENTIAL OILS. There are several plants whose oils have a powerfully detoxifying effect. Most of the citrus are detoxing, including lime, tangerine, and grapefruit. Note: lemongrass is amazing, but it is STRONG, so use just a tiny bit!
Essential oils are often used in conjunction with cupping. Ask your cupping therapist to include them in your treatment.

Massage can also be detoxifying as it improves circulation and boosts lymph flow. Massage, cupping and essential oils can be combined in one session.

Remember, when detoxifying-
"The Solution to Pollution is Dilution"
       -Jason Miller, Cupping Instructor
Drink plenty of pure water! If your body is strongly detoxifying, you may feel flu-like symptoms, and you will probably eliminate in the toilet more often. That's good! Keep chugging water and you should feel great!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thai Massage: Why the Ultimate Sports Massage rules Holistic Health

thai massage for shoulder tension relief, nina boulder
Thai Massage for shoulder tension relief

thai massage for hip low back pain relief, nina boulder
Thai Massage for hip and low back pain relief

sports thai massage in boulder, ultimate champions, Pitt, nina boulder
Nina gives Thai Massage at the Ultimate championships to the winning team, Pitt
I had been practicing massage for a few years when my good friend (and massage therapist), Sonni, said "Let's go to Thailand and learn Thai Massage." Sounded like a great idea, but I wasn't ready to jump on a plane. Instead, "I should order a Thai Massage video and learn more about it, before I invest in a trip to Thailand", I thought.
That video changed my life...

The instructor in my Thai Massage video was Michael Buck, aka Mukti, of the Vedic Conservatory. Mukti is a gifted teacher and mentor. He teaches in Thailand, but he has taught all over the world (he had barely arrived home from Prague before heading to Colorado to train me!).
Mukti's teaching style is unlike other Thai Massage trainings. His Thai massage application requires a connection between therapist and client. The pair become one unified, flowing art form, working together to achieve a healing.
He teaches therapists to follow their intuition when giving treatments.
I called him to praise him for his exceptional teaching. The call prompted him to come to Carbondale, Colorado and offer a hands-on Thai-on-the-Table workshop. Since that first training, he has returned to the Aspen valley to train more therapists, and I, again, attended his Thai-on-the-Table workshop.

What is Thai Massage?
Thai Massage is a truly holistic therapy that has been used by medical professionals for thousands of years! It is also known as
Nuad Borarn, Thai-Yoga, Assisted Yoga, and Lazy Man's Yoga.
As you can see from the pictures above, the therapist offers a series of yogic stretching and compressions, in sync with the breath. Yoga stretches are called asanas. The breath is pranayama.
Thai Massage assists all of the body's systems, naturally, and promotes healing.
Thai Massage:

  • Relaxes tight muscles
  • Calms the mind
  • Loosens stiff joints
  • Improves sleep and energy levels
  • Opens chakras & moves qi
Although I acquired certification in Sports Massage years before I knew about Thai Massage, I consider Thai to be "the ultimate sports massage". I use it with athletes, with great success.

Why is Thai Massage better than Sports Massage?
Unlike old-school sports massage which stretches muscles in isolation, one at a time, Thai is based in yoga. Yoga asanas better simulate real-life activities and sports because they are more dynamic. Like our real movements, each asana involves several muscles. Asanas are multi-planar; i.e., also like real movements, they involve movement in several planes of direction. See the rotation in the picture above.

Calling Thai the "Ultimate" sports massage took on new meaning for me in 2012 when I gave it to the Pitt athletes as they won the Ultimate National Championships!

Thai Massage is one of the few treatments I have ever experienced (giving or receiving) that is truly holistic. Each application assists the whole body to heal itself!

In my practice, "Balanced Boulder Massage and Cupping"
, an entire session can be devoted to Thai Massage. Or clients may receive a blended treatment of Thai, Deep Tissue, and Swedish Massage, plus Cupping. Each client's needs are different, and each session is crafted individually for best results.

Experience a Thai Massage, or a "Blended Thai" treatment, at Balanced Boulder Massage & Cupping! Your body deserves it! Don't Wait!

In addition to the 2012 Ultimate National Champions, University of Pittsburgh, other athletes who have benefited from my massage included 2010 women's snowboarders (see and the 2003 World Champion Synchro Ski team from Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Welcome to Balanced Boulder Massage and Cupping's new blog!

Welcome, Boulder community,
to the new blog for Balanced Boulder Massage & Cupping!

Nina Dropcho, cupping, massage therapist in boulder colorado
Nina Dropcho, B.S., CMT, CPT
I'm Nina Dropcho, and my massage practice has landed in Boulder, Colorado! Please allow to share my background, the massage and cupping I use to treat a variety of health conditions, and the healthy lifestyle tips you will find in this blog.

Nina's education, training, and mentors
"College and fitness, Take 1, and ...Action!"
I received my 1st college degree, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, in 1992. Gardner-Webb was a place of tremendous personal and spiritual growth for me, and it allowed me to bloom. I "out-grew" some of my unhealthy ways and became certified as a fitness instructor.
Over 20 years ago I started my journey of helping others achieve amazing health naturally!

When I moved out west, I continued to be both a counselor for abused kids and a fitness instructor. And then, shortly after moving to Colorado, while waiting for the right jobs to open up...I took a massage class..."just for fun".

Hooked on Massage!
I knew immediately that I needed to pursue massage as a profession. I took a Sports Massage class and Myofascial Release (MFR) trainings (because I COULD NOT WAIT to start massage school). 
In 2002, I completed my Massage Therapy program at Full Circle School for Alternative Therapies, in Edwards, CO, with a 4.0 GPA. Just a few months later, I passed the National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (with high scores across all categories).

I continued teaching fitness classes and I started 1-on-1 personal training. I taught fitness classes for Colorado Mountain College for 10 years. I loved every class and every student along the way and made some friends for life!

Intro to Yoga and then... Time for Thai Massage!
I started to incorporate yoga into my life and into my classes, finding it helpful in relieving hip and knee pain I had started getting. Then I met Mukti (Micheal Buck) of the Vedic Conservatory.
Through his incredible mentorship, I learned Thai-Yoga Massage.
I have specialized in Thai Massage for almost 10 years. Unlike traditional Thai Massage that is done on a mat, I practice Table Thai. It's a blend of Thai stretches and compressions, Deep Tissue, and Swedish massage styles.

I am grateful to Mukti for his exceptional teaching over the years. The Vedic Conservatory style of Thai Massage is a healing offering that is artistic, graceful, and truly holistic in its approach to health.

Education in
Aspen, and meeting Dr. Bob-
I was able to attend sports medicine classes hosted by the Aspen Sports Medicine Foundation. I attended conferences and labs, participating in their knee and rotator cuff dissection labs 8 times.
I was fortunate to attend workshops by world-renown sports medicine expert, Dr. Bob Donatelli. Bob offers physical therapy at his clinic in Las Vegas, where he treats athletes from around the world. Of course, I had to go to Vegas and learn directly from Bob! With a visit to his clinic, witnessing Bob's work helping top athletes in their rehab and recovery, I was blown away. I brought back Bob's "best" exercises to my fitness classes, and (accidentally) I got huge relief for my own hip and knee problems!

Never stopping learning...
I had to continue my academic education. As I approached the age of 40, I decided to return to school and pursue a health sciences degree. However, my biology classes held a huge surprise for me...
I discovered that there are plenty of non-human species roaming this planet, and they deserve our attention, too!
In 2012, I finished my 2nd B.S., in Biology, from Metropolitan State University of Denver.

(Almost caught up to today...Getting there, I promise)

Studying the non-humans.
After several internships in genetics labs, including one on the CU medical campus, I now study the DNA of several vertebrate species and how genetic changes influence evolution. I currently work for the Zoology Department at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, part-time.

Finishing all those books and exams...
After 3+ loooong years back in school, I was pretty antsy to take another hands-on massage workshop. Learning cupping had been on my wish-list for about 7 years. Through the incredible teachings of Jason Miller and Mark Perido of the International Cupping Therapy Association, I became trained as a Cupping Therapist in spring 2013.

So thrilled by the results of cupping, I have set out to master the healing art of cupping. Upon completion of my first cupping workshop, I began my new cupping treatments. One month later, I completed the training again, as a Teaching Assistant.

Finally, we have arrived!
It's spring 2013. I now offer massage and cupping therapies in the Boulder area.
In the next few days (i.e., blog posts), I will share more with you about massage and cupping. I'll describe their amazing benefits and how they heal the body.
This blog is a reflection of my healing arts practice; all of my knowledge, techniques, and intuition will unfold to reveal a path toward greater health.
Jump on board and follow me along the journey!

Blessings of Amazing Health to you,
Nina Dropcho, B.S., CMT, CPT