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Cupping is also known as "myofascial cupping therapy," "myofascial decompression (MFD)," and "cupping therapy." The Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice of cupping involves placing heated cups (typically made of bamboo, glass, or earthenware) on the skin to create suction. This practice dates back over 2,000 years but has received recent attention due to its use by world-class athletes for injury relief.

Modern-day cupping involves placing cups on dry skin or skin to which lotion has been applied and using a rubber pump to create a vacuum. The cups may be left in place for 5 to 10 minutes or glided across areas of tender/tight muscles (trigger points) to create a positive inflammatory response and gently lift tissue away from scar tissue/adhesions below to restore normal movement and relieve pain.

In a peer-reviewed study1, researchers concluded that cupping could be effective in treating the pain and disability associated with chronic neck pain and chronic low-back pain in the short term.

Is cupping safe?

Cupping is generally safe when performed by one of our trained health professionals.

Does cupping work?

Cupping appears to be an effective complementary treatment for a variety of conditions. It can help release toxins, clear blockages, restore lymphatic circulation and improve blood flow through veins and arteries which can help relieve muscle tension and promote healing. For athletes, cupping can help with muscle recovery following intense and repetitive physical activity.

What are the side effects?

Some of the side effects like bruising and soreness are possible.

Ask your physical therapist how cupping might help you.

Cupping is a helpful alternative treatment for some. Please share your complete health history with your therapist and they will discuss the benefits and possible side effects of cupping to make sure it is right for you.

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  1. Chi, L. M., Lin, L. M., Chen, C. L., Wang, S. F., Lai, H. L., & Peng, T. C. (2016). The Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy on Relieving Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2016, 7358918. doi:10.1155/2016/7358918
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