What is cupping therapy? Benefits and Applications | United States of America (2023)

What is cupping therapy? Benefits and Applications | United States of America (1)

Have you ever noticed a famous athlete or Hollywood star with large circular marks on their body and wondered, "What is this?" These discolorations are created by an ancient therapy called "cupping", in which a sucking process moves blood throughout the body, which is believed to remove toxins. Cupping has been practiced in Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures for thousands of years, but has only gained popularity and notoriety in the United States in the last 20 years, thanks to celebrities and athletes sporting their cupping brands. ((Robert Shmerling, "What Exactly Is Cupping Therapy?")Harvard Health-Publikation, June 22, 2020:https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-exactamente-es-cupping-2016093010402))

Documented in one of the world's oldest medical textbooks (dated 1550 BC), ((Katie Rosenblum, "What Are Cupping? Does It Work?" Cedars-Sinai Blog, January 13, 2020:https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/cupping-therapy.html))Cupping therapy is now taught in someDPT schoolsand used byphysiotherapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, physicians and chiropractors. It is thought to treat pain, but it is also used to treat other ailments. Cupping therapy is not without controversy, as the lack of conclusive evidence has led some to claim that it only provides a placebo effect. ((Cleveland Clinic, "Cupping", last reviewed Aug 19, 2020:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping)) This post provides an overview of cupping, including tips on who it's recommended for and not, and where you're likely to find deals for cupping.

Cupping Therapy Explained

What is cupping therapy? Benefits and Applications | United States of America (2)

Cupping therapy is a therapeutic process that uses a glass, ceramic, bamboo or plastic cup to create suction on the skin. Typically, the doctor will apply a flame to the inside of the cup to remove the oxygen before placing the cup on the skin, creating a vacuum that pulls the skin into the cup. Some cups have a suction device, so there is no need to heat the cup. ((Cleveland Clinic, "Cupping", last reviewed Aug 19, 2020:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping)) Cupping increases blood flow to the target areas where cupping vials are placed, relieving muscle tension and promoting cell repair.

history of cupping

Turns out the suction cups weren't just a stapletraditional Chinese medicine, but also in ancient Egypt, Greece and Islamic culture. Records show that cupping was already practiced in 1500 BC. by the ancient Egyptians. to treat menstrual disorders, dizziness and fever. The Chinese attribute cupping therapy to Ge Hong, a famous herbalist during the Jin Dynasty. Ancient Greek physicians prescribedCupping therapy for internal ailments and pain relief.

Types of cupping

There are two main types of cupping: wet and dry. In wet cupping, the skin is lightly pierced with a needle, allowing blood to flow into the cup. Dry cupping does not puncture the skin; so the skin becomes dry. ((National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, "Cupping", November 2018:https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cupping))

Alongside these two main methods, there are a variety of cupping practices to explore, including: ((Abdullah Mohammed Al-Bedah et al., "Classification of Cupping Therapy: A Tool for Modernization and Standardization",Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medical Research, June 23, 2016:https://journaljocamr.com/index.php/JOCAMR/article/view/19506/36043))

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  • needle digging: In this combination of acupuncture and cupping, the acupuncture needles are placed first and then cups are placed over each needle.
  • massage cups: after creating suction, the therapist moves the cups over the skin.
  • hitting the face: Small silicone cups are placed on the face to rejuvenate and detoxify the skin.
  • water sample: One-third of each cup is filled with warm water and then placed against the skin for absorption.

How does cupping work?

What is cupping therapy? Benefits and Applications | United States of America (3)

The driving theory behind how cupping works is that the suction it involves promotes better blood flow, which promotes healing and reduces pain. An acupuncturist at Cedars-Sinai Integrative Health in Los Angeles said her patients experience immediate benefits. "I often hear her say that on a scale of 10 her pain has gone from an 8 to a 3," he said. ((Katie Rosenblum, "What Is Cupping Therapy? Does It Work?" Cedars Sinai Blog, Jan 13, 2020:https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/cupping-therapy.html))

Während der Behandlung ((American Institute of Alternative Medicine, „Cupping Therapy in Massage and Acupuncture“, n.d.:https://www.aiam.edu/acupuncture/cupping-therapy-massage-acupuncture/)) ((Cleveland Clinic, "Cupping", last reviewed Aug 19, 2020:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping))

Your tasting session will vary slightly depending on the treatment you choose. The doctor will ask you to lie on your stomach or face down on a table, depending on the area being treated.

In dry cupping, known as "fire cupping," the doctor uses a flammable substance, such as herbs, alcohol, or paper, which he places in the cup and then lights the fire. Once the fire is out, the doctor quickly places the cup upside down over the area that needs treatment. A vacuum is created when the air in the cup cools and lifts the skin at the cup opening.

The same suction effect can be achieved with modern suction cups that have air pumps that allow the doctor to control the amount of air sucked in.

Some therapists let the cups dry for about 3 minutes and then remove them, while others massage or stretch the area by briefly moving the cup.

In wet cupping, also known as "hijama," the doctor places the cups on the skin before piercing or cutting them with needles. After a few minutes of suction, the cup is removed so the doctor can make small incisions in the raised skin to release blood and toxins. The therapist may apply pressure to increase blood flow before holding another cup over the area for a few more minutes.

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Cupping therapy is usually not painful and causes only mild discomfort. One journalist wrote of his experience with fire cupping: "I couldn't see the flame when I put my head on the massage plate, but I could feel the heat. I grimaced and tensed. It shouldn't have bothered me; it was painless. " ((Tim Newman, "I tried cupping and it went like this",today's medical news, January 26, 2018:https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320707))

After treatment and possible side effects

After treatment, visible circular patches may appear on your skin caused by broken capillaries. These bruise-like discolorations are painless and usually heal on their own within 7 to 10 days. ((Katie Rosenblum, "What Is Cupping Therapy? Does It Work?" Cedars Sinai Blog, Jan 13, 2020:https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/cupping-therapy.html))Rare side effects may include skin infections, burns, scarring, nausea, anemia, headaches and dizziness. Many of these potential risks are preventable, and cupping is generally considered a safe practice by researchers.((Shabi Furhad and Abdullah A. Bokhari, "Therapy with Cupping,"StatPearls, July 31, 2021:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538253/))

Amanda Baiada, Senior Director of Brand and Content at St. Augustine University for Health Sciences, is a longtime cupping enthusiast. "Regular fire cupping has helped me to be more mobile and relieve my chronic neck and shoulder pain," she says. "Once the cups are removed, I can move more freely and the tension is lessened."

Benefits of cupping therapy

What is cupping therapy? Benefits and Applications | United States of America (4)

Proponents of cupping claim a wide range of benefits from the practice. Primarily, it is believed to promote muscle healing and regeneration. Also used to treat: ((Robert Shmerling, "What Exactly Are Cupping?")Harvard Health-Publikation, June 22, 2020:https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-exactamente-es-cupping-2016093010402)) ((Cleveland Clinic, "Cupping", last reviewed Aug 19, 2020:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping))

  • Neck, shoulder, back and knee pain
  • Skin problems like acne and hives.
  • hypertension
  • Fibromyalgia
  • migraine
  • Arthritis
  • gastrointestinal problems

Scientists have studied the benefits of cupping therapy from many angles over the years. FORPost 2018found that wet cupping can help remove excess heavy metals from the blood, which has an excretory effect on the kidneys. ANDTrialshows it can be an effective treatment for people suffering from neck pain, a medical condition that is the second leading cause of chronic disability worldwide.

cupping therapy for athletes

As evidenced by the repeated occurrence of cupping in top athletes in both cases2016j2021Olympia, many high-performance athletes advocate cupping therapy. sports coach andclinical sports specialists(Physiotherapists trained to treat amateur and elite athletes) often use cupping to help athletes' muscles recover after repeated intense physical activity.

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Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps is one of the best-known athletes to use cupping marks in competition, causing a worldwide sensation.Interestat the Rio 2016 Games. His record swimming performance made him the most successful Olympian of all time with 23 gold medals. ((Rahul Venkat, "Michael Phelps: The Man Who Ruled the Olympic Pool Like No Other",Olimpiadas.com, September 5, 2020:https://olympics.com/es/noticias-destacadas/michael-phelps-olympic-medals-record-how-many-gold-swimmer-world-record))your coachtold ESPNin 2016 who has been using the treatment at Phelps since 2014.

Suckers were still visible at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, even though Phelps is no longer competing. Swimmer Adam Peaty of Great Britain ((Murad Ahmed, "Olympian Adam Peaty has a plan to be the greatest of all time",financial times, July 21, 2021:https://w​ww.ft.com/content/4e388cc2-acd1-41b8-8439-8e87f94480ed)) Akira Namba from Japan and Kyle Chambers from Australia ((Saman Javed, „Tokyo 2020: What are the dark circles under the eyes of swimmers?“)Independent, July 30, 2021:https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/olympics-cupping-circles-swimmers-backs-b1892490.html))All of them were spotted wearing the reveal circles during the competition.

Over the years, professional athletes in sports such as basketball and baseball have also incorporated cupping into their treatment modalities. Athletics coach for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder ((Rob Mahoney, "From Michael Phelps to the NBA: Cupping Bruises Are Showing Up Everywhere",Sports Illustrated, 10.08.2016:https://www.si.com/nba/2016/08/10/michael-phelps-cupping-bruises-nba-thunder-kyle-singler))e o Washington Nationals da MLB ((Stephen Pimpo Jr., "Bryce Harper of the Nationals posts a picture of a cupback back", WJLA, 25 de janeiro de 2018:https://wjla.com/sports/content/nationals-bryce-harper-posts-picture-of-back-covered-in-therapy-suction-cups)) practice with their players. However, research on the effectiveness of cupping in athletes has not produced conclusive results to date. ((Rhianna Bridgett et al., "Effects of Cupping Therapy in Amateur and Professional Athletes: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials",The Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, March 1, 2018:https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2017.0191))

Quem deve evitar a ventosaterapia? ((Ilkay Zihni Chirali, “Cupping Therapy: Frequently Asked Questions and Precautions and Contra-Indications”,Cupping Therapy According to Traditional Chinese Medicine(Third edition), 2014:https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/cupping-therapy)) ((Cleveland Clinic, "Cupping", last reviewed Aug 19, 2020:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping))

While cupping is generally considered safe, it's not recommended for everyone. People with certain medical conditions should avoid using cupping, especially those with the following medical conditions:

  • Epilepsy
  • hemophilia
  • stroke history
  • eczema
  • soriase

Other factors to consider are:

  • To alter: Cupping should be avoided or closely monitored in the elderly and children due to their sensitive skin.
  • the pregnancy: Avoid placing cups on the abdomen and lower back.
  • medicine: If you are taking blood thinners, do not try cupping.

Search behind the suckers

Research on cupping has often yielded inconclusive results. As a result, some medical professionals have expressed skepticism about cupping therapy, withPhysiologist from UCLAhe called "pseudoscience" in a recent article on Michael Phelps' cupping phenomenon. Their perspective is based on multiple research sources that cite statistically weak data. For example:

  • A 2019 report failed to identify a consistent theory to explain the effects of cupping and said large clinical trials were needed to confirm future data. ((Abdullah M.N. Al-Bedah et al., "The Medical Perspective of Cupping Therapy: Effects and Mechanisms of Action",Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, April 2019:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411018300191#sec5))
  • A 2017 study of cupping for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee states, "Only weak evidence can support the hypothesis that cupping therapy may be effective in improving treatment efficacy and patients' physical function." ((Jin-Quan Li, "Cupping Therapy for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: Evidence from Systematic Review and Meta-analysis", Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, August 2017:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744388117300750))
  • The 2011 study confirmed that cupping can help reduce pain, but in the next sentence it says: “Even for this indication there remain doubts.” ((Myeong Soo Lee et al.: “Is cupping therapy an effective treatment? An overview of systematic reviews, "Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, March 2011:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2005290111600010?via%3Dihub))
  • In a recent blog post, a Mayo Clinic physician noted, "While some of the available studies suggest a possible role for cupping therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia, the definitive answer to its actual role must await greater and more rigorous conclusion." ." ((Brent Bauer, "Cupping Therapy: Can It Relief Fibromyalgia Pain?" Mayo Clinic, March 20, 2020:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/expert-answers/cupping/faq-20058053))

Where can I get cupping therapy?

In the area of ​​health and well-being, you will find professionals trained in cupping, from massage therapists and acupuncturists to physiotherapists, doctors and chiropractors. The type of cupping specialist you need depends on the type of treatment you want.((Cleveland Clinic, "Cupping", last reviewed Aug 19, 2020:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping))

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What is cupping therapy? Benefits and Applications | United States of America (5)

cupping therapy in physiotherapy

Studies have shown that cupping is a viable treatment option.physical therapy modalities. It can have positive effects on the patient's flexibility, pain threshold and range of motion. ((Jaeeun Kim et al., "Effect of Cupping Therapy on Range of Motion, Pain Threshold, and Muscle Activity of the Hamstrings Compared to Passive Stretching"Journal of the Korean Society of Physical Medicine, August 2017:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319567134_Effect_of_Cupping_Therapy_on_Range_of_Motion_Pain_Threshold_and_Muscle_Activity_of_the_Hamstring_Muscle_Compared_to_Passive_Stretching))

physiotherapistRob StanboroughFaculty member at St. Augustine University for Health Sciences (USAHS), PT, DPT, MHSc, MTC, CMPTP, FAAOMPT, has incorporated cupping therapy into their treatments for years to manipulate the soft tissues of their patients. He clarifies: "We use our hands and elbowsHowever, they may also use instrumented soft tissue manipulation, dry needling where permitted, cupping, and a variety of other methods to mobilize these tissues. Our goal is to increase mobility, promote healing and restore function.”

Average cost of cupping therapy

The cost of cupping will likely be affected by your geographic location, but $30 to $80 is the average range for a treatment. ((Robert Shmerling, "What Exactly Is Cupping Therapy?")Harvard Health-Publikation, June 22, 2020:https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-exactamente-es-cupping-2016093010402))Around the world, the price is often considered affordable compared to other treatment modalities such as acupuncture. ((Ya-Jing Zhang, "Cupping therapy versus acupuncture in pain-related disorders: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials and sequential analysis of studies",Chinese medicine, July 24, 2017:https://cmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13020-017-0142-0))

In general, doubts remain about the true benefits of cupping therapy. More research is needed on the modern effectiveness of this ancient treatment method.

What is cupping therapy? Benefits and Applications | United States of America (6)

The largest physical therapy school in the United States*, the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) provides hands-on experienceDoctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)Degree. Join a collaborative group of peers learning under the guidance of experienced faculty and practitioners. Practice with simulated and real patients in our state-of-the-art simulation centers and learn anatomy with our high-tech tools. Prepare for clinical practice with a variety of patients, as well as advanced roles in research, practical leadership, and policy making. Classroom formats are available (combined didactic courses + face-to-face labs during the week) and flexible formats (online courses + face-to-face labs on weekends).

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*Based on total DPT degrees awarded as reported by the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Data are collected by IPEDS through related surveys conducted annually by the US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

On April 28, 2020, the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences at its Dallas, Texas campus, received Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) status, 3030 awarded a Candidate for Accreditation Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, VA, 22305-3085; Phone: 703-706-3245; Email:[email protected]). If you need to contact the program/institution directly regarding accreditation, please contact Dr. Thomas P. Werner at 469-498-5740 or[email protected]. All application-related questions should be directed to[email protected]Candidate Eligibility is an eligibility status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates that the program can enroll students in professional/technical courses. Achieving accreditation candidate status does not guarantee that the program will receive initial accreditation.


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