What’s the Deal With Cupping?

You’ve probably seen the photos and articles circulating about interesting marks on Olympic athlete’s bodies this year. Although this treatment has only recently gotten national exposure, it’s been around for a very long time! It’s not just a fad therapy being used by celebrities, and can be a very effective treatment for a variety of ailments.

The technique is called “therapeutic cupping,” which is delivered through the use of special suction cups. The original method involved inserting a flame in a glass cup, then quickly placing the cup on the skin creating a vacuum and the skin is pulled up into the cup. This method dates back not just decades, but centuries.

The modern, more efficient application involves plastic cups attached to a suction pump. There are different sized cups for use on different parts of the body.

So, why would someone use this technique?
The Western version is more often used to manipulate soft tissues and release tension, adhesions, and scar tissue for pain relief and improved mobility. This is the method we employ at Mettler Center. Typically, we use it to work on specific areas as part of an overall treatment, so will often still incorporate other massage techniques. The cups can be left in place or can be pulled along the skin once suction is created, depending on the client’s tolerance and needs during the treatment. Here are a few examples of conditions that can be improved with therapeutic cupping:

  • Post surgery
  • Lymphedema (light suction)
  • Scarring from radiation treatment (after skin heals)
  • General scarring
  • Muscle tension
  • Fascial adhesions
  • Fibromyalgia

The Eastern version of this treatment involves placing cups on the body along energy meridians to encourage the flow of Chi, or Qi.

Try it out for yourself! Massage therapists Erin Elliot, Cassandra Griffith, and Jami Taylor have been practicing therapeutic cupping for years and have had much success helping clients using this technique. 

Additional questions? Ask an Expert. Ready to try? Make an appointment today!