Myofascial Cupping for Plantar Fasciitis

Spring is here!!!

And with this lovely season, I typically see higher rates of plantar fasciitis in the clinic. So I am here to tell you all about how I can help you with your plantar fasciitis with the use of just a handful of cups.

Myofascial cupping is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has become very popular in North America over the last 10 years. If you want to learn more about what myofascial cupping is, please take a read at this blog on cupping! If you already know what cupping is, and are here to learn how it can help your plantar fasciitis, then read on! 🙂

How is Cupping Helpful for Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis (or plantar heel pain) is pain on/around the heel that is usually worse first thing in the morning, or the first few steps after you have been sitting for a while. The pain can be very local to the heel of the foot but sometimes will run along the bottom of the foot.

Myofascial cupping will help to increase blood flow to an area and will have an effect on the cutaneous nerves (nerves that supply sensory innervation to the skin) in the area. This can help promote healing, increase range of motion, decrease pain, and increase strength.

What does Cupping the Plantar Fascia look like?

It can be a bit different for every client and each therapist will have small differences in how they use cupping with their clients, so I will speak for what I do in my practice, which is also what I teach in my Introduction to Myofascial Cupping course.

After completing the assessment, which will include some chatting to obtain a history, and looking at the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and back. I will also ask some questions to ensure that myofascial cupping is right for you. I will want to know if you have had any recent surgeries in the area, and if you are on any anti-inflammatory medication. I will also want to make sure you do not have any blood clotting disorders.

With all this information, if it has been determined that you have plantar fasciitis and that cupping is right for you, I will consider the options for the cause or contributing factors of your plantar fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis

A typical cupping session on the bottom of the foot.

A typical cupping treatment for someone who has plantar fasciitis will start with you laying on your stomach.

Lotion will be applied to the area (foot and calf).

3-7 cups will be applied to your calf, and 1-3 cups will be applied to the bottom of your foot. Intensity will be as tolerated. We want you to feel the cups, but you do not need to be in pain to have a successful treatment.

The cups will be left on for 5-20 min. This timeline is based on if you have had cupping before, how much time is available within the session, how you feel with the cups (do they loosen up quickly or do they take a long time to loosen up?), and other things that you/your practitioner want included in the appointment. BUT no fear! Even a 2-minute treatment is likely to show positive benefits!

After the cups are removed, your practitioner may do a quick massage or give you some exercises to help with your plantar fasciitis symptoms!

After your session, drink lots of water and check in with your Athletic Therapist if you have any questions or concerns.

How often should you have cupping for plantar fasciitis?

I typically recommend as much as 3 times a week if your symptoms are acute (if you have a lot of pain the majority of the day). As symptoms decrease, you can start to decrease the frequency of appointments down to 1 time per week, every other week, and so forth. Chat with your athletic therapist to create a plan that works for your symptoms AND for your schedule!

What is the Research Behind Myofascial Cupping for Plantar Fasciitis

When it comes to plantar fasciitis, there is moderate quality research to support the use of cupping. Cupping has been noted to improve pain and function immediately after a single session. Cupping has also been proven to be more helpful when compared to the traditional treatment of ice, strengthening, and stretching. However, it is noted that for the best outcome, you want to do cupping in conjunction with exercises.

(Szlosek & Campbell 2023, Malik et al. 2022, Alkhadhrawi et al. 2019, Ge et al. 2017, Gabriel et al. 2022)