Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass, silicon, plastic or bamboo cups as suction devices that are placed on the skin to release tight muscles and fascia, disperse congested lymphatic fluid and blood stasis in the affected areas.

There are several ways that a practitioner can create the suction in the cups.

At Parris Wellness, we use the traditional method called “fire cups”. This method involves using a cotton ball saturated in rubbing alcohol secured by a self-locking hemostat scissor that is then light to create a suction or negative pressure within the glass cup. The cup is then applied immediately to the skin. Most often multiple cups are applied during the cupping therapy. Flames are never used near the skin and are only used in the process of creating the suction within the small cups.

Once the suction has occurred, the cups can be gently moved across the skin (often referred to as “gliding cupping”. Pain relief massage oils are applied to improve movement of the glass cups along 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 of our 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.

The side effects of cupping are fairly mild. Bruising should be expected, but skin should return to looking normal within 3 to 5 days.

The Philosophy Behind Pain and Cupping

“Where there is lack of free flow there will be pain”. When there is lack of free flow and disfunction in the body pain is often a symptom.

We use cupping to release the spasms in the musculature, as well as stagnation of the lymph and blood in the affected areas. When stagnation and lack of free flow is rectified the body returns to homeostasis.

TCM theory states, that pain results from the congestion, stagnation, and blockage of Qi, or vital energy, vital fluids, lymph, facia, muscles tension, and blood.

Pain is one symptom of disease that results in obstructed or irregular flow in the body. Cupping is a valuable method of breaking up blockage and stagnation, restoring the body’s natural flow of energy.

Cupping + Acupuncture

Generally, cupping is combined with the acupuncture session, but it can also be used alone. We most often use cupping therapy after the acupuncture to improve function of the affected areas as a way of enhancing the acupuncture therapy.

The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow. We use cupping to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, lung congestion and even cellulite treatments.

Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials.