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What is Cupping Therapy?

CuppingCupping is an ancient technique closely associated with Chinese Medicine that has now been adopted by massage therapists.

It involves the use of heated glass cups to create suction on the skin surface to encourage blood flow and ease tension. The heated cup is placed on the skin and as the air inside the cup cools, it creates a partial vacuum that slightly pulls the skin upwards and opens the skin pores. This draws on or mobilises local fluids and toxins from the body, releases stagnation, and helps to activate the lymphatic system, while promoting an increase in blood flow to the area and surrounding tissues.


A Typical Cupping Treatment

15 or 20 mins is ideal for a cupping session on its own, or it can compliment other treatments, such as, acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage therapy in a longer consultation.

In a treatment session oil may be applied before the cups are used. Each cup is usually kept on the skin for 5-15 mins, depending on the location and how much the area needs this particular treatment. Sometimes the practitioner may use a gliding technique with the cups, which stretch and pull the muscles and skin further.

Note: Cupping is ideal for people for whom the insertion of acupuncture needles may not be viable.


After a Cupping Session

The treatment can leave a slight discolouration on the skin. This is temporary (up to a week, usually less) and is a sign that you have been very responsive to the treatment.


Benefits of Cupping

  • Increases nutrient-rich blood supply to area
  • Assists in recovery and decreases fluid retention
  • Stretches the tissues under the skin, which can result in increased movement
  • Assists in reduction of localized inflammation and aids recovery
  • Breaks up and expels congestion
  • Restoring flow and balance to the body (Qi)


What Conditions Can It Help With?

  • Neck, Shoulder and Back Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Colds and Flu
  • Strains and Sprains
  • IT Band Syndrome (lateral knee pain)
  • cuppingPlantar Fasciitis (foot pain)
  • General muscle imbalances & tightness
  • Musculoskeletal Problems


Cupping has an Olympic Moment

See those spots? Competitors at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio, including swimmers and gymnasts, used cupping therapy as a physiological recovery tool to stimulate blood flow, loosen up muscles and joints, move toxins, improve circulation, heal overworked muscles, relax muscle stiffness and reduce soreness, while relieving the pain of overexertion. This helped to speed recovery and prevent injury by restoring the flow of Qi life force energy in the body. Psychologically athletes do this to get their body to feel good and stay healthy. The superficial marks fade after two to four days.


Relevant articles:

Cupping Therapy for Colds and Flu

Chinese Cupping: Constipation, Sore Throat, Spine Alignment

What Are Those Marks?