Introduction To Cupping Therapy

Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin. 

The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. 

For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes. 

This is similar to the practice of Tui Na, a traditional Chinese medicine massage technique that targets acupuncture points as well as painful body parts, and is well known to provide relief through pressure.

The Many Benefits Of Cupping

Earle Logan
BSc in Health Studies, Dip.Nut


Pain reduction
Cupping, particularly moving cupping, has similar effects to a massage and is therefore beneficial in relieving muscular pain. Although further research investigating the effects of cupping on fibromyalgia needs to be done, one investigation found that cupping therapy was more effective at reducing pain intensity than regular care.

Releases muscle tension
Cupping softens muscle tissue and helps to relieve muscle knots which results in looser feeling, more flexible muscles. Cupping usually targets muscle groups that are prone to tightness such as the hamstrings, the adductors and the back and shoulder muscles.

Improves digestion/relieves digestive disorders
Cupping is thought to improve digestion through relaxing the whole body. Stress, anxiety, and muscle tension can lead to congestion and stagnation in the digestive system. Cupping is thought to release this stagnation.

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What Is Cupping for Cellulite?

Cupping is one of the cheapest methods you can perform on yourself to reduce cellulite appearance. You might have heard the term lymph drainage. Well, that’s what cellulite cups doーthey stimulate blood circulation and release fats and toxins.

What Are the Benefits of Cupping?

Cupping can definitely help to reduce the appearance of cellulite, and tighten the affected area. Repeated frequently, it has the ability to remove the orange-like texture on the skin, leaving the skin looking more youthful and tightened.

Does Cupping Work for Cellulite?

It sure does. Otherwise, we would not be writing about it! In fact, there is a pilot study which proves its effectiveness. The conclusion of this study is that when dry moving cupping therapy was applied 10 times per 5 weeks on each leg, there were visible results in cellulite reduction


By Joe Phiakhamta, MAcOM, L.Ac

  In AcupunctureDetoxificationFatigueImmunityStress

Presently, cupping therapy is used in over 60 countries, and more than 300 studies on cupping therapy can be found in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Library of Medicine (Pubmed) databases. Cupping is employed to treat various health conditions, such as musculoskeletal pain, infections, headaches, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, digestive issues, infertility and skin disorders. In the early 1900s, Dr. William Olser, recognized as the “Father of Modern Medicine” and one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Hospital, advised cupping for the treatment of bronchopneumonia and acute myelitis.

In 2015, a systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that “cupping could be effective in treating the pain and disability associated with chronic neck pain and chronic low-back pain in the short term.” More recently, in 2017, a crossover study comparing the effects of muscle-stretching exercise versus cupping therapy on pain thresholds and cervical range of motion (ROM) and angle concluded that “cupping treatment is more effective in improving ROM of the cervical spine and pain thresholds” and advised that therapy should be “one of the treatment options for pain and ROM impairments of the cervical spine.” Another study, conducted on females who were between 7-14 weeks pregnant, found that cupping therapy produced “significant reduction in the frequency of nausea and vomiting” and it improved their “quality of life.”

Some of the many the benefits :

  • Stimulates whole-body relaxation response (parasympathetic response)
  • Stimulates oxygenation and detoxification of blood while promoting a feeling of lightness and tension relief
  • Detoxifies metabolic debris in muscle tissue, fascia, and skin
  • Increases range of motion, breaks up adhesions, and promotes healing in scar tissue and chronic injury sites
  • Increases lymphatic drainage and promotes circulation

Given these benefits, here are some of the conditions for which cupping can be really helpful:

  • Tight and stiff muscles
  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Piriformis syndrome and IT band pain
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Migraines
  • Respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchitis
  • Anxiety, depression, and stress
  • High blood pressure (by calming the nervous system)
  • Cellulite

Reasons Why Athletes Do Cupping

  • Improve blood flow
  • Improve immunity by increasing lymphatic output
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Calm the nervous system
  • Stretch muscles and connective tissue
  • Loosen restrictions and adhesions in the tissue
  • Provide relaxation
  • Optimize athletic performance
  • Improve overall wellbeing