The Basics of Cupping Therapy

Acu-Na Wellness Center


What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is a time-tested, effective technique for relieving pain, muscular tightness, and poor circulation in the body that is increasingly used in wellness centers across the country. This ancient therapy originated thousands of years ago as folk medicine in China and Europe and was incorporated into the advanced medical system of traditional Chinese medicine. Today, cupping is performed by licensed and trained acupuncturists and bodywork experts, who should be accredited by the NCCAOM to ensure optimal safety and proper technique.

How does Cupping work?

Cupping creates a mild suction within smooth round glass cups that are applied to areas of pain and stagnation on the body. The suction can be created by a manual pump or by briefly introducing a small flame into the cup before placing it onto the skin. For this reason, some people call the technique “fire cupping,” but it should be noted that the flame never touches the patient, and is a completely safe procedure when performed by a properly licensed practitioner.

The suction created by cupping serves a few purposes. It draws stagnant blood to the surface of the skin, which restores microvascular circulation and allows the body to detoxify the muscle tissue. It also helps release the fascia, the connective tissue surrounding the muscles, which releases restriction of the muscle fibers and restores proper contraction and relaxation of muscles to reduce knots and relieve pain of trigger points. (Muscle knots are essentially a permanently contracted group of muscle fibers, so releasing constricted fascia and improving circulation will help that contracted area relax and return to the normal state of function.)


What are those circular marks?

Cupping therapy results in circular marks that vary in color from pink or red to purple. THESE MARKS ARE NOT BRUISES. A bruise is caused by trauma to the underlying tissue/blood vessels and is accompanied by discomfort or tenderness. In contrast, cupping does not cause tissue damage or trauma. The marks of cupping are a result of blood being drawn to the surface, and the marks are not tender to the touch in the same way that a bruise is.

It is important to note that cupping in one area, such as a painful shoulder, will cause purple marks while the same level of cupping on another area of the same person’s body may not cause any mark at all. This is because areas of stagnation (pain) are associated with “stuck” blood that is failing to circulate. Cupping over these areas draws the stuck blood upward to the surface to be reabsorbed by the restored microvascular structures.

Cupping over an area that does not have stagnation will not leave a mark. In this way, cupping therapy can be diagnostic as well. If a practitioner sees that one area has purple marks after cupping, he or she knows that the area is compromised and needs more therapy. The practitioner will continue to cup that area in subsequent treatments until cupping creates less noticeable marks or no marks at all. This shows that treatment has been successful, and the area is no longer constricted.

The result is freedom from pain, improved range of motion, and a healthy muscular and vascular system. You can see the results for yourself by having your acupuncturist incorporate cupping into your regular acupuncture/massage session! If you don’t have a regular acupuncturist, don’t hesitate to contact Acu-Na Wellness center.

Book your Cupping Therapy Session Today. Click Here and select the “Acupuncture” option in the service drop down, then select “Cupping Treatment.”

Written by Lily Gach, L.Ac