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20 May 2022

It’s Magic in a Cup

By Erin Lanting, BSc, MScPT


Did you know that we offer cupping therapy at the clinic? If you are thinking about trying out this treatment, or your therapist has recommended it, read this blog post to find out more information and help you feel more prepared for your visit! 

What is cupping?  

Cupping is a treatment method that involves using special cups to create suction over the skin’s surface to help with healing of injuries, reducing muscle tension, and overall symptom management.  Essentially it is the opposite of a traditional massage, so instead of pressing down we are actually pulling up on the tissue with the use of suction (compression vs decompression). 


What are the benefits of cupping? 

Research on the benefits and effectiveness of cupping is limited, however it has been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation in some studies! Cupping can improve blood flow in skin, muscles and joints, ultimately optimizing tissue healing. It can also stimulate lymphatic drainage and increase joint lubrication, and is thought to  promote overall relaxation of muscles.   It is a safe,non-invasive and inexpensive treatment with few contraindications.  In general, we would not utilize cupping on any open wounds or broken skin, areas of excessive swelling or if you have known bleeding disorders. 


How & where can cups be applied to your body? 

How the cups are applied depends on the type of cups used. At Two Hands Physiotherapy we use silicone cups that can be applied simply by pressing on the cup to create the negative pressure to create a seal.  Cupping therapy can be static, where the therapist applies and then leaves the cups in that same spot for a period of time, or dynamic, where the therapist applies and then glides the cups over the skin while maintaining suction.  Both treatment styles can be effective and often it’s just patient or practitioner preference over which one is done. Cupping is not limited to certain areas or muscles,  however different sizes of cups may be needed depending on the size of the patient and/or the size of the target tissue.  


How long does the treatment take? 

The treatment itself can be done in about 10 minutes.  It does not take long for the cups to have an effect which makes it easily incorporated into a regular physiotherapy session.   Cupping is rarely used as a stand alone treatment at our clinic as we find it most beneficial when used in combination with other physiotherapy treatments like laser, home exercise and additional manual therapy. 


Does it hurt? 

Cupping doesn’t hurt per say but the sensation can feel odd especially your first time having the therapy done.  It should feel as you would expect with having strong suction on your skin, very tight and almost a bit tingly. The nice thing is that your therapist can adjust the suction easily and quickly if needed to suit your comfort level. 


What can i expect after treatment? 

After the treatment, your skin may temporarily feel irritated from the rim of the cup. It is normal for the skin to have a residual circular mark after the cup is removed and the color of this mark will vary depending on how your body responds to the therapy and the strength of the suction used. Your skin may look light pink or darker purple in color but either way, it will fade over time, sometimes within seconds, other times over the course of a few days. Generally the darker the mark the longer it will take to fade.  Ultimately, we also hope you feel more relaxed, with less pain and improved mobility after your cupping therapy session. 

If you have more questions about cupping, please reach out and otherwise we hope to see you in the clinic soon.