Cupping Therapy: An Ancient Healing Technique

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy after shoulder replacement surgeryCupping therapy has been gaining immense popularity through social media. The buzz around this ancient healing technique is fueled by the endorsements of celebrities and athletes like Michael Phelps. But why? The nature of cupping involves using suction cups to relieve pain and muscle tension. Most used on the back, cups are applied to other parts of the body such as the abdomen, chest, legs, and even the face.

Cupping was first discovered in ancient Egypt around 1500 B.C. Shortly after, it quickly spread to other countries, like China and the Middle East. China remains the leading country that uses this form of alternative medicine today.

The Science Behind Cupping and How It Works


Cupping therapy is rooted in a fascinating theory of essentially manually kickstarting the body’s defenses to force accumulated toxins back into the bloodstream where they are properly cleansed and eliminated from the body.

Due to the suction created by the cups, bodily fluids are pulled to the surface of the targeted area. This action ruptures tiny blood vessels called capillaries under the skin, triggering the body’s natural defense response. Healing what it now perceives as an injury site, the body cleanses the area by flushing out what toxins remained.

Types of Cupping Therapies

Fixed cups and gliding cups used in cupping therapyCupping therapy comes in various forms. Fixed cups, or hard cups, are stationary and are left in place for a few minutes to provide sustained pressure on a particular area of the body. This can help release muscle tension and increase blood flow.

Sliding cups, also known as gliding cups, are coupled with a lubricant, like oil, which helps them glide smoothly over the surface of the skin. This technique is often used to treat larger areas of the body and can be particularly effective for reducing inflammation and improving circulation. This is one of the more relaxing forms of cupping.

Flash cupping is a variation of fixed cupping, where the cups are applied and removed rapidly, creating a pulsing effect on the skin. This technique is thought to be particularly effective for treating respiratory issues.

Finally, Hijama, also known as wet cupping, involves making small incisions in the skin before applying the cups. This technique is often seen to treat chronic conditions such as migraines, asthma, and arthritis.

At The Best Body Company, we specialize in both fixed and sliding cups, as seen in the image above. Our fixed cups are made of fiberglass material and are designed to provide targeted pressure to specific areas of the body, while our sliding cups are made of soft silicone and are used to treat larger areas of congested muscle tissue. Both techniques can effectively promote healing and reduce pain and inflammation.

Therapeutic Benefits

Cupping therapy offers a range of potential benefits for the body, including relieving inflammation, improving circulation, and toning vessel walls. The technique can also help lift and stretch soft tissue, promote lymphatic drainage, and loosen adhesions in the muscles. Cupping therapy can be effective for releasing and softening scar tissue and adhesions, as well as deep tissue and muscular tissues. In addition, cupping therapy has a sedative effect on the nervous system and can stimulate blood flow to promote healing and relaxation.

Demonstration of fiberglass cups used in cupping therapy on someone's knee

Conditional Benefits

Many conditions have benefited from cupping, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and sciatica. It can be effective in managing athletic stress and injuries, as well as muscular aches and chronic pains. Cupping therapy may also be useful in treating poor circulation and pre- and post-operative conditions. Additionally, the technique is effective in addressing scars and adhesions, TMJ dysfunction, cellulite, and tendonitis. Cupping therapy can also provide relief from migraine, tension headaches, and sinusitis.

Things You Should Know

Before seeking cupping or any other alternative medicine, it is important to consult with a medical professional. While cupping therapy has many benefits, it may pose complications for certain medical conditions. Cupping is not recommended for those with bleeding disorders, like hemophilia, or who have a history of deep vein thrombosis or stroke. You may experience some side effects, like mild discomfort, soreness, and bruising. However, that will go away after a few days.

With that being said, cupping is still a safe and highly effective treatment. For the best benefits, you should see a trained professional. Fortunately, at The Best Body Company, all our massage therapists are professionally trained and licensed by the Virginia State Board of Nursing. Call us at 757-428-2639 or click the link to book your appointment today! We are committed to helping you be the ‘best body’ you can be.

Mylene L., LMT

Kelsie B., LMT


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