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“Research shows that cupping can be very beneficial, not only for pain but to detoxify the body.”
  • Maria Hogan

The Ancient Art & Science of Cupping

Cupping has been practiced for thousands of years in Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures, as documented in one of the world’s oldest medical textbooks, dating back to 1550 B.C. Yet, it only became popular in the United States in the past 20 years. We now see Cupping used by acupuncturists, massage therapists, physical therapists, physicians, and chiropractors. Cupping is most commonly associated with treating conditions that cause pain, but it can also treat numerous other ailments.

What, Exactly, is Cupping?

Cupping is a therapeutic process using a glass, ceramic, bamboo, or plastic cup to create a vacuum that suctions the skin, creating a negative pressure that draws the skin to the cups. Cupping increases blood circulation on target areas where the cups are placed, relieving muscle tension while promoting cell repair.

Each cupping session will vary based on the individual and the specific target ailment. The therapist will use a flammable substance, like alcohol; it is then lit on fire and placed into the cup. Once the oxygen in the cup has been burned off, the cup is placed on the skin. The process is not painful at all; in fact, it can be very relaxing. The suction from the cups increases the circulation to the areas where the cups are placed.

After the cupping session, the famous circular marks caused by bursting capillaries may appear on your skin, indicating inflammation has been brought out of the muscle and to the surface. The marks clear up on their own in a few days and leave no scarring whatsoever.

Cupping can promote healing and muscle recovery, which can help tremendously in a post-workout regimen by relieving muscle soreness. It can also treat arthritis, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, neck, shoulder, knee pain, migraine headaches, and gastrointestinal disorders. Patients also report having great sound sleep after a cupping session.

Cupping can also treat any congestion brought on by the build-up of phlegm in your lungs caused by a cold, bronchitis, or even asthma. The suction from the cups placed on the area of your lungs can break up and expel the congestion. It can help carry oxygen-filled blood and lymph towards your lungs. People report almost immediate relief.

Numerous studies have been done on cupping. Research shows that it can be very beneficial, not only for pain but to detoxify the body. It has even been shown to be effective in removing heavy metals. Since cupping marks were seen on many high-performance athletes at the 2016 and 2021 Olympics, more and more athletic trainers are using cupping to help their client’s muscles recover following intense, repetitive physical activity.

If you’re interested in learning what cupping can do for you, stop into Incentives Spa. I’ll be happy to answer your questions regarding cupping and introduce you to this fascinating and very effective treatment modality.

Cupping Therapy

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About the Author


Maria Hogan

Maria Hogan is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Massage Therapist. She graduated with a Masters Degree in acupuncture from the New York College of Health Professions, where she currently is a Professor and Supervisor to students in the Massage Clinic.

Maria is passionate about sharing the healing benefits of Chinese Medicine.
Believing the body should be treated as a whole, she uses many modalities to treat various conditions.

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