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Have you ever seen someone with circular dark
markings up and down their back and wonder why?

Chances are they had a cupping session.

What is cupping therapy, and why would anyone want to do it? It looks painful, right? Cupping has been around for thousands of years dating back to early Egypt, China and Greece. 

Cupping is not reserved for athletes but is a therapy used by all walks of life to relieve muscle tension, backaches, stiff neck and shoulders and other challenges brought on by stress, work and daily life.


Massage Cupping is an adaption of ancient technique and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Plastic cups act as a vacuum pump to create negative pressure on the skin's surface. Cups are then moved using various techniques while gently pulling on the connective tissue. Bony land marks such as spine and scapula which are often avoided (due to compression because typical massage would cause pain), can be worked on. 

The cups' suction reaches deep into soft tissue, attachments and organs. Inflammation, blood and lymph are then pulled to the skin's surface. The pulling action on the body engages the parasympathetic nervous system and induces a deep relaxation.

Health and healing are promoted by loosening soft and connective tissue, therefore an visible improvements are seen in scars and adhesions. The outcome is increased circulation, lymph flow and the sensation is truly indescribable.

Massage Cupping therapy very rarely produces skin discoloration, called a "cup kiss." If this appears during the treatment, it's just an added bonus indicating the release of intense stagnation (body fluids and toxins) in the area. It is also unlikely that it will re-occur in the same area.

Why Do You Get Marks or Skin Discoloration? Does It Hurt?

Stationary cupping, when the cups are left on the skin for a length of time, can leave rings and circles due to blood moving to the surface. This process can create some discomfort or pain as it creates a vacuum suctioning up the skin. The pressure influences the intensity level, however many describe the sensation as a slight pinch. Some marks can be darker than others, the darker the color the more effective that cupping point was for the client. Results are immediate and lasting, with the marks and discoloration fading in about a week. Despite any initial discomfort, many recipients describe cupping as relaxing and therapeutic. The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system allowing, deep relaxation throughout body.

    What Is Traditional Chinese FIRE Cupping?

    Although there are several ways to facilitate stationary cupping therapy, fire cupping is most traditionally used. By quickly heating the inside of the cup with fire, suction is created when placed on the skin. Typically, 4 to 6 cups are used adhering to the skin for about 15 to 20 minutes. According to Acupuncture Today, "The negative pressure created by the suction stimulates the local acupuncture point, this increases the Qi and blood flow through the meridian to loosen up tight muscles, to relieve pain, and to detoxify and re-balance organ function."

    Stationary cupping is most commonly used on the back, neck and shoulders. 

    Watch Fire Cupping at Elm City Wellness!

    with Deb Palladino, LMT



    • Deep tissue work and release without discomfort
    • Moves stagnation and drains fluid
    • Relieves inflammation
    • Nervous system sedation
    • Breaks up and expels congestion
    • Stretches muscle and connective tissue
    • Loosens adhesions
    • Pulls blood supply to the skin
    • Facilitates movement of the Qi/Chi and blood systematically and locally
    • Dispels wind, damp and cold to treat muscle and joint pain, stiffness and arthritis
    • Strengthens the immune system by promoting the flow of lympatic fluid
    • Treats excess heat conditions, fever, stress, depression and anxiety
    • Cleans blood and lymph helping balance pH levels