Cupping Therapy:

Cupping Therapy Cupping Therapy

Becoming increasingly well known, thanks in part to the number of celebrities and Olympic athletes employing this therapy.

Used in treating muscular skeletal problems such as frozen shoulder and spondylitis. Clients find this very relaxing and often feel immediate relief.

On occasion cupping may leave a discolouration on the skin – this will dissapear in due time.

This is not a bruise but a result of blood being brought to just under the skin surface – often occurs where adhesions and stagnation are present and are a symptom of an underactive lymphatic system.

Cupping is also popular as a method of helping to reduce cellulite as part of an holistic weight control/ reduction programme.

Cupping is being recognised as being particularly beneficial for lung related conditions such as Asthma, Bronchitis and conditions such as coughs and wheezes.

Cupping has been used in China for several thousand years.

The practice was also developed in ancient Egypt, Greece and Africa.

There is also a tradition of cupping among the Jewish and Muslim communities.

The first cups were made from cattle horns and were primarily used in the treatment of boils and carbuncles.

Later the technique was found to be effective in treating other illnesses and slowly developed into a therapy which was often combined with acupuncture.

In British Victorian medicine cupping was extensively practiced, every doctor was trained in their application and use.

(I remember as a student nurse back in the ‘70’s poking about in disused cupboards and finding cupping apparatus and there was still practicing nurses about who remembered their use in every day treatments.)

Cupping remains popular in Europe where people still include a set of cups in their home first aid kit.

Interest in cupping was rekindled in the West with pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow (1995) attending a film festival in a low cut dress which showed the typical round marks left on her shoulders and back following a cupping therapy.

More recently there has been much comment and interest in TV pictures from the Rio 2016 Olympic games where members of the American swimming team led by Michael Phelps displayed signs of having received cupping therapy.

This has encouraged people to examine how the ideas of complementary therapies such as reflexology, acupuncture and aromatherapy may be integrated alongside conventional treatments, allowing people to feel they have more control over their personal health and well being.

(NB – it must be emphasised that complementary treatments are complementary and that advice, diagnosis and treatment from your doctor must never be ignored or set aside in favour of untested and unknown treatments.)



Modern cups can be made from glass, Perspex, or silicon with a manual pump to obtain a vacuum rather than the traditional fire method is becoming popular among practitioners (less chance of accident and allows a fine control of amount of suction being created.)

The aim of cupping is to gently stimulate the movement of blood which has been in stasis, move energy and stimulate the movement of the lymphatic fluids.

The client and I will have discussed where and what is to be treated, for problems like frozen shoulders, stiff necks, coughs etc., the client can sit on a chair, for lower back issues, abdominal complaints or cellulite dispersal from the tummy and thighs clients will be positioned on a massage plinth.

One of the questions new clients invariably ask is – will this cause bruising?

What are those marks we see in photographs that look like bruises?

A bruise is a dark painful area caused by a traumatic injury. The marks left by cupping, no matter how bruised they look are not painful. There are no external or internal injuries inflicted on the skin or underlying tissues.

The technical name for cupping marks is ecchymosis, and will fade away of their own accord within a day or two. Where very strong cupping has been used the marks may linger on for a few more days but should not be a cause for alarm.

On completion of a treatment clients may note a warm relaxed sensation throughout the body with perhaps a feeling of warmth around the cupping area. The therapist will apply a warm oil over the cupped area, cover the client with a light blanket and advise the client to rest quietly for a few minutes before they move.

Cupping is not a one stop magic bullet that can cure all illness, for chronic conditions that the client has lived with for some time, clients should realistically expect to receive a course of 5 – 10 treatments before permanent betterment is noted.


There are to many conditions to be fully discussed here but coughs, asthma and wheezing among adults and children respond very well. Lower back pain, sciatica, sexual dysfunction are all treatable with usually good outcomes. Clients report much less pain, increased vigour and a perception of a better quality of life.

Bed wetting (nocturnal enuresis) especially in the younger age groups is a source of embarrassment and trauma in many families Gentle cupping can alleviate this condition very effectively.

The other complaint that clients are sometimes reticent to discuss is constipation, either as a result of poor diet, lack of exercise or diminution of energy in the elderly. A combination of reflexology, topped up with ear acupuncture where necessary, and cupping is usually very successful in this area.

Complaints of dysmenorrhoea and painful periods seem to be on the rise, perhaps exacerbated by stress, anxiety, jobs where sitting in front of a screen for many hours is involved. Again, combination treatments of reflexology and cupping can bring relief and cessation of symptoms.

Perhaps the most common presenting complaint is musculoskeletal pain sometimes resulting from excessive physical activity, sports injuries and trauma, or in the elderly due to arthritis, rheumatism, or lack of physical movement.

NB – where there is swollen painful joints with bone deformities – cupping is not appropriate.(Other treatments may help in this instance.)

Clients with skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis which sometimes appear to respond slowly to conventional creams and steroids can be helped.

Complaints of tiredness, fatigue, exhaustion are on the rise, again, combination treatments of reflexology, cupping and Moxa can show improvement in clients well being and energy.

Spondylosis, torticollis, headache, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome can all be helped in combination treatments including cupping. Exactly which combinations of treatments may be involved with any one client will depend on the holistic picture the client presents with.

With particular reference to sports injury and long term displacement of tissue through postural habits, perhaps being confined to a wheelchair or bed for long periods is the use of myofascial trigger points, defined as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule which is painful on palpation with pain, tenderness, motor dysfunction. Clients often refer to a ‘lump’ or a ‘band’ stretching across an area. There can be sensations of pain, tingling, numbness, muscle weakness and rigidity.

Cupping for this condition will create a strong negative pressure over the trigger point, this stimulates the movement of stagnant blood toward the cup which induces oxygen rich blood to flow into the area warming and releasing knots and lumps.

What you can expect from your therapist :

  • Insured and accountable with appropriate qualifications
  • Works within their competence
  • Will refer on to GP or other appropriate health worker if medical conditions are detected which go beyond complementary treatment
  • Will consult with client and make appropriate recommendations to supplement treatment
Common Conditions Under ‘common conditions’ on the main menu, we have listed some areas of concern that present themselves on a fairly regular basis. If you feel you have symptoms not covered – please contact us to discuss your issues and see if we can help!

Mobile Reflexology (C)2017

0131 319 1258  or 07899 931625