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All about Cupping

Massage cupping, or just ‘cupping’ crops up in the news and celebrity pages every now and again, as there are some well-known fans of this treatment, which is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) techniques.

It’s a massage technique that’s becoming popular in spas and clinics over the country, and it’s one that can be really great for your overall health.

So, what exactly is massage cupping? It’s a healing therapy which was developed thousands of years ago, and involves placing glass, bamboo or plastic jars onto your skin, creating a vacuum which sucks the tissue underneath into the jar. The suction is designed to help boost circulation, relieve pain, and help to stimulate removal of toxins.

Despite having the word ‘massage’ in its name, it’s actually the opposite of normal massage. In traditional massage, a therapist will apply different types of pressure to your muscles and connective tissues. With cupping, the therapist uses suction instead, which pulls skin, muscles and tissues upwards.

What happens during a massage cupping treatment?

Cupping works well on fleshier areas of the body so it’s common for a treatment to involve the back. It’s supposed to be pleasant and relaxing so you shouldn’t feel any discomfort. As the cup is placed on your body, you may feel a tightening sensation, but if you do start to feel any discomfort at all, your therapist will move the cups around elsewhere. Depending on the reason for your treatment, the cups are left in place for varying amounts of time. A cupping treatment is unique to your needs on the day you have it, so your ‘routine’ may well change as different health needs


After a cupping session, your skin may turn red, purple or blue – this is more likely if you have any kind of energy blockage in that area. It usually only lasts a few days but it can last longer, even up to a few weeks if there’s an injury, but it shouldn’t hurt. Once the marks have disappeared, you can have another session, until the health issue you’ve been treating is resolved.

Are there different types of massage cupping?

Yes, there are a few different methods, but the two you’ll be most likely to come across are fixed cupping and moving cupping.

In fixed cupping, the cups are placed on one area of your body and not moved once they are in place.

Moving cupping has more of a massage element as the therapist will use massage oil or cream along with the cups, placing the cups over the areas to be treated and then sliding them around – this type of session is often used for a back treatment.

What is cupping good for?

Cupping is a good all-round spa therapy and is great if you suffer from:

• Stress and/or anxiety

• Pain – especially back pain

• Allergies

• Fatigue

• Colds and flu

• Muscle aches and pains

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