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62 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j u l y / a u g u s t 2 0 1 6 After many years of practice and research, I've come to the conclusion that we can accomplish both goals by using what I call Soma Cupping. Through this technique, we can move into and against the fascial grain, while at the same time introducing rotational and decompressive forces. Through Soma Cupping, tissues that are hypertonic can be softened, and flaccid tissues can be stimulated. By closely monitoring the level of negative pressure employed, we can utilize this work to keep our clients in a parasympathetic state. THE SCIENCE ON FASCIA One of the people in our field doing rigorous science on therapeutic touch is Robert Schleip, PhD. Schleip, a former trainer at the Rolf Institute and a department chair at Ulm University, writes, "In myofascial manipulation, an immediate tissue release is often felt under the working hand. This amazing feature has traditionally been attributed to mechanical properties of the connective tissue. Yet, studies have shown that either much stronger forces or longer durations would be required for a permanent viscoelastic deformation of fascia." 1 In other words, the ideas I was taught about fascia "melting" or it being "restructured" were incorrect. We can't press hard enough or hold the release long enough to melt the fascia. One way to think about fascia and its tensile strength is to think of fresh seaweed. It's tough and strong. We can't generate enough force to change its structure (without actually tearing the fibers). It is, however, also pliable. We can move it in the direction we feel it should go, if the seaweed is hydrated instead of dried out. The science is clear—we can't reorient fascial fibers. Why, then, are deep myofascial disciplines such as Rolfing and Active Release Technique often so effective? Perhaps it's because the act of manipulating the fascial system bombards the central nervous system (CNS) with huge amounts of information. The CNS forms a better holographic image of itself, (Above) Bruising can occur with Soma Cupping, but is generally less than with traditional glass cupping because of the cup's movement, and the ability to control the amount of suction. (Right) Rotational forces can be introduced to the fascial web using cupping, something hands- on therapy can't duplicate. (Below) Soma Cupping can help with trigger points. Images courtesy Kris Menga.

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