What is cupping?

The use of cupping is known to have a long history dating back to ancient medicine. There are records of some type of cupping being used in Egyptian, Chinese, Unani, Korean, Tibetan, and Latin American cultures. There are several types of cupping including dry, wet, and fire cupping. Also, the cups themselves are made from different materials including glass, plastic, and even animal horns. Dry cupping is the type used most often today where these special cups are applied at specific points on a person’s body and then suction is applied using a handheld pump. With this form of cupping, the clinician can apply different levels of suction depending on the person’s needs and response to the treatment. 

What are the benefits?

  • Decreased pain
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved blood flow/lymphatic drainage
  • Increased healing response
  • Decreased tissue tension

What to expect and is it safe?

When receiving dry cupping it feels pretty much just like you would expect. However, when more suction is applied it may feel a little uncomfortable at first. The cups are normally left on the skin for 5-10 minutes. During this time, the clinician may have you completely relax and allow the cups to do all the work, they may have you perform dynamic movements to activate the muscles and further mobilize the tissue in the area, or a combination of both. After treatment, the area may be raised temporarily and circular markings may appear which usually disappear after a few days. Dry cupping is a very safe treatment but there are some cases it shouldn’t be used. You should ask your physical therapist or physician if cupping would be useful for you.

-Dr. Arron Pierce PT, DPT


-Cupping therapy. Physiopedia. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Cupping_Therapy