What is Cupping Therapy and the Benefits of Cupping?

Cupping Therapy, sometimes referred to as simply “Cupping,” dates back thousands of years. Known to help ease pain, inflammation, and speed up the healing process, this treatment was developed by ancient Chinese and Egyptian practitioners and is easily one of the oldest therapeutics still in modern day use today.

While anyone can undergo the procedure, cupping benefits are especially prized by both professional and amateur athletes that need to maintain high performance levels while continuing to play and perform through pain and sore muscles.

What is Cupping?

Incredibly innovative for it’s time, cupping is a relatively straightforward treatment therapy method. By placing glass cups on the skin and creating suction, the process draws up soft tissue and increases blood flow to the area that is being “cupped.”

A good way to think of suction cup therapy is like the reverse of a massage. Instead of soft tissue that’s manipulated with pressure, like during a massage, cupping pulls the tissue away from the body and into the cup.

There are two different types of cupping therapy methods that create the force that draws the skin into the cup.

Types of Cupping Therapy – Vacuum Cupping vs. Fire Cupping

Fire Cupping and Vacuum Cupping are the two primary types of Cupping Therapy.

Fire Cupping

With the traditional fire cupping method, ancient practitioners used fire to heat vessels like animal horns, bamboo and, eventually, ceramics that were placed atop a person’s skin.

The heat from the vessels creates a natural suction that draws up the soft tissue. Some traditionalists still use the fire method, though generally with glass cups instead of organic materials and vessels.

Vacuum Cupping

Vacuum cupping is more technologically advanced and doesn’t require heat to create suction. Instead, a pump is attached to a glass or silicone cup that creates the necessary suction or vacuum to draw the soft tissue upwards.

The vacuum cupping method provides the exact same cupping therapy benefits as the fire method without the potentially dangerous use of fire and heat.

What are Typical Cupping Benefits?

Cupping received a lot of attention when athletes like Michael Phelps, the most decorated swimmer in Olympic history, competed with the signature cupping marks on his shoulders and across his back.

In fact, a wide array of athletes at all levels and types of sports utilize this treatment therapy because it is perceived by many to allow for faster healing while they are still able to train and compete.

Many vacuum cupping benefits are popular among athletes because they can reduce pain and inflammation and speed up the recovery healing time.

Cupping Benefits Can Include the Following:

  • Increased blood flow to the cupped area
  • Improved blood circulation promotes healing in the cells
  • New blood vessels and connective tissue are created
  • Dissolved scar-like tissue, called adhesions, that can develop in the body from injury or overuse and are often associated with cause pain and diminish performance

With vacuum cupping therapy, there is no anesthesia or downtime from surgery-related recovery. It is also safer and easier to administer than fire cupping.

What Are Some Potential Cupping Therapy Side Effects?

There are very few, if any, negative vacuum cupping side effects because it is non-invasive and there is no fire or heat involved. The most common cupping therapy side effects are the telltale, circular cupping marks left on the skin.

These marks are caused by the blood vessels responding to the change in pressure within the cup and will generally disappear anywhere from a week to 10 days after a cupping therapy session.

The cupping marks were clearly visible on Michael Phelps when he competed in the Olympics and created a lot of attention, which introduced the world to this therapeutic technique.

How Can Shockwave Therapy Be Used With Vacuum Cupping?

Vacuum cupping uses a silicone or glass cup that comes in various sizes and draws up the soft tissue using a hose and a pump.

The STORZ Medical Shockwave Device is available with a variety of accessories and add-ons to extend the range of treatment therapies.

The VACU-ACTOR® is an excellent add-on accessory that is used with the STORZ Masterpuls One machine for vacuum cupping therapy.

There are a number of conditions that can be effectively treated using Shockwave Therapy combined with vacuum cupping.

Shockwave Therapy and Vacuum Cupping Treatment Conditions Include:

EPAT Shockwave Therapy is a popular method of treating pain and increasing the speed of healing for professional and amateur athletes alike.

It is also widely used for people who sustain workplace injuries, in addition to those who live with painful medical conditions from the natural aging process.

Combining Shockwave with the numerous cupping therapy benefits offers another method of healing for people who live with pain on a regular basis.