Explore Chinese cupping therapy and how it supports healing!


You may know cupping from high-profile athletes and celebrities that implement it into their wellness — it became widely recognized a few years back when it was popping up in the media with the likes of Michael Phelps. The large symmetrical and circular bruises had everyone talking and getting curious about cupping. 


So, what is cupping?


At Li Qian Acupuncture in Manhattan, Dr. Li provides comprehensive Chinese medicine services including acupuncture, gua sha, cupping, and Chinese herbs. To learn more about the benefits of cupping, join us in today’s post!

The Uses And Benefits Of Cupping


Chinese fire cupping has been widely used since ancient times when Eastern medicine implemented it for moving energy and supporting circulation. It was commonly used for fever reduction, gout, and arthritis, and today, it’s implemented to improve recovery by reducing inflammation and promoting blood flow.  


What is cupping?


Before we dive deeper into the benefits of cupping, let’s look at precisely what it is. Cupping typically involves cups from glass, bamboo, or ceramic, though glass is the most common cup material Chinese medicine practitioners use. 


The cups are placed on the treatment area and the acupuncturist will apply a thin coat of massage oil to help the movement of the cups. 


The suction is then created by lighting an alcohol-soaked cotton ball on fire in the cup and then placing the cup flat on the skin. The cup can then be moved along the skin or allowed to sit in one particular area. 


The circular bruises that many are familiar with, are when the cups are left sitting in one area, rather than moving around the entire treatment area.  


What does cupping do?


Now that we now what cupping is, let’s get into why it’s beneficial. 


Cupping creates a suction that supports blood flow. Why does this matter? Blood flow is vital to healing because when things get stagnant — muscle tension, tightness, inflammation, etc — blood can’t reach these areas, thus support healing. But as blood gets moving not only does it support a healthy immune response because pathogens are being cycled through, but it promotes circulation to support cell repair and regeneration. 


What can cupping support?


Cupping can support a myriad of health concerns, but it is widely used for muscle recovery from sore, tight, and strained muscles. Cupping is also used for the following:


  • Back pain
  • Leg pain
  • Acne
  • Facial paralysis


Cupping, though used for a variety of health issues, is great for musculoskeletal pain which is why many athletes and those who suffer from chronic stress love it. 


Besides supporting tension and discomfort, cupping can also benefit your health in the following ways:


  • Improves blood flow
  • Supports natural detoxification   
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Supports the nervous system
  • Improves recovery time and performance


Does cupping hurt?


Cupping should not produce any discomfort, however, everyone has a different structure to their skin. Those whose skin isn’t as flexible or elastic may experience more of a tightness than those who have more loose or relaxed skin. 


Many people report that not only is cupping relaxing but almost as calming as a traditional massage — it’s not uncommon to fall asleep during cupping!


Are there any contraindications to cupping?


While most are healthy enough for cupping, precautions should be taken for the following:


  • Women who are currently menstruating
  • Children under four years of age
  • Seniors
  • Pregnant women

It’s also important to talk to your practitioner if you’re on blood thinners and avoid cupping if you have health conditions such as:


  • Sunburns
  • Wounds
  • Skin ulcers
  • Recent trauma
  • An internal organ issue


Cupping is a great method to support your overall wellness and to address any musculoskeletal pain and discomfort.


Improve your circulation with cupping and schedule an appointment today.