What Is It Really Like to Get Cupping?

Img source - Forbes

Cupping is a treatment involving the placing of cups inversely on your skin. This treatment has been around for centuries and is used in many cultures.

Although around for hundreds of years, cupping has dramatically gained popularity in recent years, as professional and Olympic athletes began to rely on cupping to improve their sport performance. Instead of something to be covered up, people now allow their red cupping circles to be seen, some even with pride!

So, What is Cupping and How Does it Work?

As mentioned, cupping is the placing of cups inversely (open-side down) onto your skin, typically on the back, legs and/or arms, and suction is created to “pull-up” the skin, fascia (connective tissues) and muscles. The suction stimulates the blood-flow, fascia, muscles, and skin. This is the core behind how a cupping treatment offers multiple healing benefits, making cupping effective in helping alleviate a variety of health conditions.

OK, so now that you know what cupping is, why would you want to try it? Aside, of course, from the bragging rights of the red cupping circles on your body — does the cupping treatment hurt and how long do those red circles last?

Cupping does not hurt, however there is a feeling of pinching, but certainly bearable. Remember, there is suction as the skin, fascia and muscles are pulled upward. Lying on a massage table with cups on your back, you look like you have a bunch of over-sized, ripe, red pimples on your back. The stimulated and exaggerated blood flow to the cups causes the redness, and this stimulation is so strong that the redness persists for three to five days. This is testimony to the strength of the suction and to the strength of the health benefits.

Where Did the Concept of Cupping Come From? Why Pull Up?

Well, there are two main ways to stimulate the skin and muscles – either push down or pull up. We know the pushing down motion, more commonly referred to as a massage. In fact, we refer to cupping as the “inverse of a massage”, as the direction of the suction stimulation is upwards.

So, if massage and cupping are opposites of each other, why are there no lasting red marks from a massage? The main reason is that during the course of a massage, the masseuse’s hands are constantly in motion, moving up and down in a certain area (up and down the back, or around the neck, for example). Cupping differentiates itself from massage in that the cups do not move. So, the suction stimulation is uninterrupted for approximately 10 minutes. This intense stimulation naturally leaves its mark, as testament to the red cupping circles lasting a few days.

This intense stimulation is exactly why people are flocking to try cupping treatments. The blood flow stimulation from the cupping ensures that blood is directed where needed. High-caliber athletes use cupping to accelerate their recuperation time after tough workouts, allowing them to increase the frequency and intensity of their workouts to further advance their muscle strength and resilience.

Suddenly, what was once considered to be a peasant-like treatment, is now being used by world-class elite athletes, who have access to the best and most-advanced training methods.

What’s in it For You?

Well, even for the rest of us who are not in training for the next Olympics, cupping therapy in Toronto or anywhere in the world, still offers many benefits, according to EssentialBalance.ca. Something as simple as a repetitive movement on your part, such as those in the construction industry always swinging a hammer, or a new mom constantly carrying her ever-growing baby, or those actively gardening (moving dirt around is a lot of heavy work), regular cupping treatments can mean no more back pain and no more shoulder stiffness. A fantastic solution that does not involve taking medication or enduring unwanted side effects.

Cupping does more than help with sore muscles; it can reduce and eliminate many conditions, including: migraines and headaches, anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, and lung congestion from a cold. Also, because of the exceptional stimulation effect of cupping, cupping treatments can even work to reduce cellulite on a woman’s problem areas.

Let’s face it, whether active or more the relaxing type, if you are over 40, you may be in need of some cupping stimulation!!


Eileen Fauster is a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac) and has been in private practice for over 10 years. Passionate about vibrant health and energy, Eileen is the founder and director of Essential Balance Holistic Health, a wellness practice in Woodbridge, Ontario, where she helps clients one-on-one with a variety of health concerns, including fertility and hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, anxiety and depression, joint pain, migraines and headaches, correcting breech babies, chronic health issues, and anti-aging goals.