Cupping therapy involves the placement of glass or plastic “cups”, in the form of dome shaped objects, over acupuncture points or larger areas of the body. A vacuum is created using either a flame or suction pump: we use the latter at the Wellhaven Clinic in order to remove the risk of using naked flames. The vacuum then causes the flesh to be sucked up into the dome, thus stimulating the area and increasing the flow of blood and Chi. Cupping therapy is often used alongside acupuncture but may also be used as a standalone treatment.
Cupping is not painful, however it can often leave red or purple marks on the skin, like circular bruises. The marks on the skin indicate that there has been movement in the circulation of blood under and around the cups. The marks do not always appear and it depends on the condition of the area before the cups were placed.
The practise has recently been popularised by 2016 Olympians being seen with the red circles. Some people describe it as being like a really deep massage so it’s easy to understand why it would be popular with athletes. A 2012 meta-analysis of current literature showed promising results alongside other therapy and called for more studies to be completed.