Cupping Therapy - What Is It, Benefits & Side Effects

Cupping Therapy - What Is It, Benefits & Side Effects

what is cupping therapy

Cupping Therapy has become in the recent years a very common practice amongst massage therapists, spas and other professionals. Clients are slowly starting to know it more and more, and even asking specifically for it. The popularity has lead many therapists to consider it as an option, to get the adequate training, buy the equipment and try it out. However, do they know all the benefits? All the side effects? In the following article we will explore both.

Cupping Therapy is an alternative form of medicine, an ancient one too, that consists in the therapist putting special cups on the skin of the client for a few minutes as to create suction. It helps with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and more..

In fact, this therapy has been around for centuries, it goes back to the Chinese and even Egyptian cultures. Now, it has certainly evolved and therapists use glass, bamboo, and even silicone cups to perform it.

There are two types:

  1. Dry
  2. Wet

Dry Cupping:

The way it takes place is that the therapists puts a flammable substance such as alcohol or herbs, in a cup and sets it on fire. Then as the client is laying flat, normally upside down, on the massage table (view HERE our massage table collection), the massage therapist will wait for the fire to extinguish and then place the cup upside down on the client’s skin. The air proceeds to cool, creating a vacuum effect that sucks the skins, making it rise and as a result the blood vessels expand. The cup is left for around 3 minutes.

When it comes to silicone cups, many clients for being less painful, as they can suck more gently creating a sort of massage effect prefer them.

Wet Cupping:

Wet cupping is slightly different; it creates a mild suction when the cup is left in place for about 3 minutes. What the therapist does is remove the cup after three minutes, and use a small scalpel to make tiny cuts in the skin of the client. Then, the therapist will do a second suction to draw out a little bit of blood from the skin.

It is important to get a clean ointment and maybe even bandage on the skin after the treatment. The skin will go back to normal after around a week or ten days.

The whole goal of the cupping, whether dry or wet, is to perform it on large muscle groups where there are pain or muscle spasms. What the cups do is that they invigorate the local circulation of blood, helping with any swelling, pain and even tension. It can suck or draw out impurities from the skin such as toxins, or loosen the connective tissue or fascia as well as stimulating the blood flow and circulation. The cupping can be combined with acupuncture as to suck out internal toxins in the skin.

benefits of cupping therapy - massage tables pro

Benefits of Cupping Therapy

  • Pain Relief
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Removes Energy Blockages the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners see as barriers of energy flow or qi
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Used to treat coughs, bronchial congestion and asthma
  • Reduces varicose veins
  • Reduces eczema
  • Reduces Acne


Side Effects of Cupping Therapy

The first side effect, and the most evident one is the marks and or bruises in the skin. Since the cups suck blood towards the surface of the skin, they will leave a circular mark similar to a bruise or plenty o them depending on ho many cups are used. It is important that clients with bleeding disorder such as hemophilia should NOT do cupping therapy.

Also, cupping is not to be done on skin surfaces that are suffering from inflammation, burns, infections or open wounds.

It is common for the marks or bruises to last from a week up to two weeks. However, after repeated cupping therapies, it is likely for the marks to last less.

Another side effect is the discomfort to be expected. The cups remove stagnation and loosen the connective tissues and muscles, so right after the therapy, clients are likely to feel some discomfort.

Side effects of cupping therapy - massage tables pro

In extreme cases, cupping can cause severe hematomas (which are bigger bruises), hence why it is discouraged for hemophilic clients, or those with wounds and inflammations to perform the therapy.

In case of cupping where small incisions are made in the skin, infections can arise later on if the client does not take care of the cuts properly, he or she should wash them and protect them adequately.

Wrapping Up

It is key for both the therapist and the clients to know that cupping is not something to take lightly. Despite not being a treatment that can cause severe side effects, it is still something that requires training and the right knowledge. Not all massage therapists are trained or educated to perform it, and not all doctors advice it.

As for the therapists, make sure to perform the cupping therapy in a safe environment, with the clean tools. Make sure to ask the client the background questions, and if he or she are suffering from extreme pain, refer them to a doctor or medical specialist, cupping might not be enough as to relieve them from pain or heal them.


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