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What is Cupping?

  • Cupping is a type of physical therapy that uses suction along the body to help support healthy function of the organs and tissues.
  • Cupping is most known for its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
  • Many TCM health professionals are trained in the use of cupping including Registered Acupuncturist.
  • Over the years other forms of physical therapy have also adopted the used of cupping therapy including Massage, Chiropractic, Physio and more.
  • Cupping therapy has seen a rise in mainstream popularity as it is rapidly become the go to treatment for many elite athletes around the world.

History of Cupping

  • Before the use of cups, the use of suction to heal is one of the oldest, most instinctual forms of healing in the world.
  • Ancient humans and many animals will use suction to treat bites, wounds as well as to drain abscesses and puss.
  • One of the first “cupping” tools used were hollowed out bull horns. Referred to as “Horn Therapy”
  • Over time with development of fire and other tools, we discovered we could create a suction effect when the air inside a vessel was heated up. Tools such as bamboo segment, clay and glass cups were commonly used.
  • Ancient Egyptian and Chinese doctors are some of the first to have written medical documentation of cupping and its use in ancient health care thousands of years ago.
  • Ancient cupping was typically used as a method to treat infection, seasonal disorders, aid surgical procedures as well as a common remedy for easing aches and pains.
  • Over time it was found to be beneficial for the treatment of many different types of disorders. Cupping is not a therapy exclusive to Chinese Medicine.  It is found in the traditional healing practices in most continents around the world including Europe, Africa and Asia.
  • Two major styles of cupping exist today “dry” cupping and “wet” cupping
  • Wet cupping applies to cupping after a tiny incision or bleeding has been created.  The cups are placed at the site of bleeding to help draw out pathogenic factors. This method is quite advanced and used mostly in TCM and Traditional Islamic Medicine.
  • Dry cupping refers to cupping applied to the body without the use of bleeding.
  • Today cupping is a major part of many regulated health care systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Massage Therapy.
  • Because of its ease of use Cupping Therapy is also one of the most widely used forms of “folk” medicine in the world.

Benefits of cupping therapy

The Skin

  • Expansion of the blood vessels
  • Increase in blood circulation
  • Increase skin temperature
  • Benefits function of sweat + sebaceous glands
  • Improves respiration and nutrition of the tissues
  • Helps remove stagnant blood and toxins from the tissues.
  • Improves skin quality + strength

Lymphatic System

  • Improves lymph fluid circulation
  • Benefits systems ability to collect and eliminate waste


  • Therapies such as acupuncture, cupping and massage are important because they stimulate a great response in the circulatory system. 
  • In TCM circulation of blood and qi (oxygen) is paramount to healing disease from pain to organ imbalances.  Blood stagnation is a common pathology in TCM .
  •  When blood is not being properly distributed due to trauma, or some kind of physiological imbalance, pain and disease will follow.  
  • Treatments like cupping, massage and acupuncture all help to support the body’s ability draw out old stagnant blood and allow fresh blood to take its place and heal the affected area.

Nervous System

  • Stimulates sensory nerves of the skin. 
  • Creates inhibitory effects of hypersensitive pain to the treated area as well as areas controlled by the relevant nerves.
  • Treatments on the back of the body have an influence on the spinal nerves and the various systems and organs under its control

**This effect on the nervous system can have great effect soothing pain and mental stress**


  • Suction from cupping activates blood vessel function in muscles
  • Facilitates the flow of fresh blood to the muscle
  • Helps to facilitate circulation of lymph fluid


  • Improves circulation of blood
  • Improves secretion of synovial fluid
  • Helps remove muscle spasm around joints


  • Helps with peristalsis and the secretion of digestive fluids
  • Helps with digestion, absorption and excretion function of the organs

Cupping therapy for Sports Medicine, Injuries + Pain

  • Cupping is used extensively in sports medicine
  • Cupping should not be attempted however on acute injury
  • Cupping is best used in sports medicine as a form of prevention and post injury rehabilitation.
  • In TCM acute + chronic sports injury are considered a type of stagnation of Qi, Blood and Body Fluids
  • The purpose of cupping in this situation therefore is to remove stasis in the tissues and harmonizing a smooth flow of Qi , Blood and Body fluid.
  • The best time to apply cupping is soon after injury when bleeding + swelling at the sight has stopped.
  • Cupping helps to circulate and remove excess blood and fluid from injured areas
  • This helps to reduce swelling and pain
  • Cupping saturates tissues with oxygenated blood precipitating the healing process in injured tissues.
  • Acute injury will respond well to injury healing quickly within a short course of treatment 4-10 visits
  • Chronic injuries with their longer onset and deeper pathology usually require more extensive therapy 10 + visits.
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