Cupping is a therapeutic practice that has been used in different cultures for at least 2,500 years. The exact origins are unknown, but one of its most widespread current uses is in Bodywork and Acupuncture.

Cupping has a wide range of use in Chinese Medicine.

What is Cupping Used For?

The most common use of cupping is to address certain types of pain. Cupping traditionally has other applications as well, but uses will depend on the type of practitioner performing the therapy.


Massage therapists have been known for using cups to warm up an area of concern on a person's body before using other manual techniques.

There has been very little research on cupping. What we do know is that cupping can also help with pain management potentially due to affecting inflammation. Cupping can also help with acne.

Is cupping safe?

Cupping is a generally safe practice when used properly such as in a therapeutic setting with a trained practitioner. There are some contraindications for cupping including those with certain skin conditions, who bleed easily (i.e. hemophiliacs), or who have edema. Any questions may be discussed ahead of time with your practitioner, as well as after care and what else to expect from this type of treatment.

What is cupping?

Cupping is performed by creating suction over the skin and underlying tissues, causing a vacuum-like effect.
There are different types of cups (glass, plastic, silicone), and different methods of creating the suction (most commonly with a hand pump or fire). The "vacuum" effect helps stimulate blood flow and is thought to help draw up and remove toxins. It is said in Chinese Medicine that "When Qi and Blood stagnate, there will be pain". According to Chinese Medicine cupping also helps stimulate the flow of Qi.
A therapist is with you while the cups are on your skin and the feelings is a mild to moderate pressure over the area the cups are covering. The feeling is similar to the pressure of massage therapy. Sometimes a therapist will use oil to move the cups around or they will leave the cups on an area of concern for a couple minutes.

What are the marks that ar left behind after cupping?

As many may have seen in pictures, cupping usually leaves marks on the skin that can range in light pink to deep purple in color. These marks are the result of blood being stimulated and drawn to the surface, and can last from a day to a few weeks. These variables will depend on the severity of the issue being addressed.

Cupping marks are not bruises, the marks have not caused an impact injury to the skin.