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What is cupping?

The art of cupping has been around for over 5,000 years. It is an ancient type of vacuum therapy based on traditional Chinese medicine. Cupping was popular up until the mid 19th century, but the introduction of the chemical industry quickly took over the medical field.


What exactly is cupping?

Cupping is a type of therapy that uses plastic or glass cups to create a negative pressure on the skin rather than a compressive pressure such as massage.

The most common types of cupping are:

  • weak cupping

  • medium cupping

  • strong cupping

  • moving cupping

  • deep moving cupping.

The different types of cupping correlate to the amount of negative pressure applied.

Cupping helps with inflammation, tissue congestion, restrictions in soft tissue, scar tissue, chronic pain and pre/post surgical cases.

Cupping can give you three pieces of information about the injury you are dealing with:

  1. the type of problem you are facing (muscle, bone, nerve)

  2. where the problem seems to be coming from (based on the colour of the skin under the cup)

  3. the severity of the issue

How does cupping work?

A cup is applied to the appropriate area, determined by the therapist, where a negative pressure is applied.

The negative pressure is applied either via suction or vacuum. Depending on the goal of treatment, more or less negative pressure is applied.

The cups can be placed on statically where they stay in the same spot for the entire treatment, or they can be moved over the skin while the negative pressure is being applied.

The cups stimulate blood flow to the treated area, allow for soft tissue to release and loosen and break up any stagnation of blood or lymphatic flow.

When should you have cupping done?

The following reasons are when cupping may be beneficial for you:

  • Postural imbalances

  • Joint pain due to injury or degeneration

  • During sports rehabilitation for a muscle strain, ligament sprain

  • To enhance sports performance

  • Migraines

  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Where can cupping be done?

For the most part cupping can be done anywhere on the body with light and medium applications.

When the application of cupping becomes stronger, cupping is usually limited to larger areas, such as the back, chest or legs.

When should cupping be avoided?

As with all treatment techniques, there are times when cupping should be avoided. If you suffer from one of the following, it is best not to have cupping performed:

  • Hernias

  • Pregnancy

  • Cancer

  • Fragile or broken skin

  • Severe varicose veins

  • Kidney failure – current or history of

  • Cirrhosis of the Liver

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes

  • Undiagnosed deep pain lasting for 3 months+

  • Burns

  • Blood disorders (poor clotting mechanisms, on blood thinners, DVT, phlebitis)

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