Introduction to Cupping Therapy – FAQ

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is the use of glass or silicone cups to help stimulate blood flow under the skin.  Over time blood can become stagnant in the body and cupping can help to move that old blood out in order to bring fresh oxygenated blood back in.  The cups create a vacuum against your skin, using gentle suction to draw out the blood and deep tissue muscles.  Depending on the treatment given, the cups will either remain in place for a specific time, or be used with oil and moved along the area of the body being treated.

What can Cupping Therapy Treat?

Cupping is an excellent detoxification therapy.  It is able to stimulate stagnant blood and fluids in the body to help get them moving, which activates and promotes lymphatic drainage.  Like massage therapy, it can help relieve tense sore muscles, but does so by using suction to create space between the tissues to allow for drainage, rather than through compression.  According to a 2017 trial, researchers found that “cupping appears to be effective in reducing pain, increasing function and quality of life in patients with chronic non-specific neck pain”1.  Cupping therapy has been known to provide relief for the following conditions list below, however this is by no means a comprehensive list.  Please feel free to ask our specialists if cupping therapy is right for you.

  • Deep Muscle Tissue and Knots
  • Stagnant Blood Flow
  • Lymphatic Drainage
  • Chronic Pain
  • Depression/Anxiety/Stress
  • Insomnia/Sleep Concerns
  • Cellulite/Stretch Marks/Wrinkles
  • PMS & Menopausal Symptoms
  • Colds & Flu
  • Respiratory Infections (Bronchitis)

Contraindications for Cupping Therapy

While cupping is beneficial to a wide array of conditions and symptoms, there are some conditions where cupping treatment cannot be done.  Anyone with skin conditions like rashes, shingles, eczema and psoriasis may not be able to receive cupping at the site of the condition.  Also, any areas where there are open wounds or abrasions cannot be treated.  However please note that other areas of your body can still be treated with cupping as long as that area doesn’t have any of the above listed skin conditions.

Additionally, people with blood clotting concerns or those taking blood thinners are usually not candidates for cupping.  The exception is women who experience blood clotting with their menstrual cycles, as they can find great relief through cupping.  Pregnant women can generally receive cupping therapy, though the specialist may need to slightly modify their approach.  They are always willing to discuss their treatment plans, so please do not hesitate to address any questions or concerns you may have with them.

Does Cupping Therapy Hurt?

You may have seen photos of people with cupping marks on their body that appear to be appear to be painful looking bruises, however we can assure you that cupping is a safe, virtually painless (or no pain at all) form of treatment. These marks are the result of blood being drawn to the surface of the body, which rarely cause any discomfort and disappear after a few days.  The reason we state that it is virtually painless is because sometimes the area of the body that is being cupped may be sore (for example a huge knot in back muscles).  The cupping will help to release those muscles and you may feel some soreness as that area is worked on.  Since cupping is the inverse of massage therapy, using suction rather than pressure to release muscles, it can cause sensations in an area that’s sore, but is needed to release the muscle tension.  The cupping marks will go away a few days after your treatment.  Just a reminder if you are planning to be wearing an outfit (like a dress or a swimsuit) where your treatment will show your cupping marks, to plan your cupping therapy appointment either about a week before or just after your event if you’re concerned about those marks being seen.

Types of Cups Used in Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy uses glass or silicone cups to create suction against the body.  Many ancient cultures traditionally used animal horns/bones, seashells, bamboo and even some types of nut shells. Glass cupping uses fire to draw the oxygen from the cup, creating a vacuum, whereas the silicone cups are flexible and can create their own suction.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Cupping Therapy

Traditional Chinese acupuncture cupping therapy is offered at our clinic in three different styles.  The type that will be best for you will be determined in a consultation appointment with our acupuncturist.  Glass or silicone cups are used in all 3 types and the decision of which to use will be determined by your acupuncturist.

The 3 different styles of cupping styles our Acupuncturist offers are:

  1. Stationary Cupping: is where the cups are placed in a single area and left in place for a certain period of time.
  2. Sliding Cupping: is used with either Nutiva® brand organic coconut oil or our hypoallergenic vegan based oil with the cups to allow them to glide along the body.  This is best used for areas of the body that need blood flow stimulation, or pain that radiates from area to another. Tennis Elbow is an example that works well with sliding cupping therapy.
  3. Flash Cupping: is the use of the cup on a certain area of the body which is applied on and off quickly, creating a popping sound.  This uses the lighter strength of cupping with helps with tonifying and increasing energy.

There are also 3 different types of strengths used in cupping (light, medium, and strong).  Each type of strength is a different level of suction, with different benefits to the body.

  1. Light cupping: uses less suction, but is held for a longer duration of time.  This helps to tonify the body.  Blood flow movement is less compared to the other strengths and helps with increasing energy.
  2. Medium cupping: has more suction and is held for less time.
  3. Strong cupping: uses the most suction and held for the shortest period of time.  It is excellent for helping excess tension in the body.

Booking a New Client Cupping Therapy Appointment with our Acupuncturist:

For all new clients booking a cupping therapy treatment with our acupuncturist, we would book you in for a 90 minute appointment for consultation and cupping therapy treatment. Please just let reception know upon booking that this is what you’re interested in receiving. The cost is $120 for the initial appointment.

Cupping with Massage Therapy

Cupping can be combined with massage therapy to help release tense/knotted muscles in the body, to stimulate blood flow and the lymphatic system. Our massage therapists use silicone cups with Nutiva® brand organic coconut oil to help the cups glide along your body. The therapist may recommend cupping to address areas of particular tension or to help with facial release.  Depending on your specific needs, the therapist will let you know if it’s the right is treatment for you.  However, please don’t hesitate to ask your massage therapist to try cupping during your appointment.  You may just wish to feel what it’s like and we would be happy to show you or answer any questions you might have.

Our Acupuncturist 

Michael Amador McFarlane: Michael is a registered acupuncturist trained in Canada and China.  He provides treatments in both traditional Chinese and orthopedic styles of acupuncture, as well as cupping therapy.

Our Massage Therapists

Bobbie Lu-Kopf: Bobbie has been a Natural Health Practitioner and Registered Massage Therapist for 19 years.  In both private treatment sessions and classes she draws on her education and experience to create a wealth of complementary healing modalities.  She effortlessly integrates traditional Chinese philosophies of health and mindfulness with Western practices.

Urszula Rutka: Urszula trained as an occupational massage therapist in Poland before continuing her studies in Canada.  A life-long learner, she is highly proficient in many different modalities, and is particularly interested in helping those suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders