With celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Lionel Ritchie & even Justin Beiber all fans of cupping, it's no wonder this his ancient technique is becoming trendy...


Sometimes referred to as needle-free acupuncture, cupping was developed thousands of years ago in China and though the techniques have modernised, the original philosophy remains the same...

“Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain.
Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.”
-  Chinese proverb

The old Chinese belief that pain results from the congestion, stagnation, and blockage of Qi, or vital energy, vital fluids, lymph, phlegm, and blood. If pain is the essence of disease, then suffering is a result of obstructed or irregular flow in the body. Chinese cupping is therefore a method of breaking up the blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy.

One way to think about cupping is that it is the inverse of massage. Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull skin, tissue and muscles upward. Cupping involves placing glass, bamboo or plastic jars on the skin and creating a vacuum by suctioning out the air - we use plastic cups with a pump. The underlying tissue is raised, or sucked, partway into the cup. The purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, shift "stagnant blood" and pull out the toxins that linger in your body's tissues.


Even Olympic athletes know how effective cupping is at treating tired, overworked muscles, reducing recovery time. 

US gymnast Alex Naddour was quoted as saying that cupping was "better than any money I've spent on anything else. That's been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy ".

The British Cupping Society states that cupping therapy can treat a variety of conditions safely, including: 

  • Respiratory infections

  • Blood disorders, such as anemia and hemophilia

  • Joint pain caused by arthritis and fibromyalgia

  • Migraine and tension headaches

  • Muscle aches and stiffness

  • Fertility and gynecological disorders

  • Skin problems such as eczema and acne

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Mental disorders, anxiety and depression

  • Food allergies and asthma

  • Promoting weight loss and improving cellulite


The main sensation is one of tightness, pressure and warmth where the cup is placed - slightly uncomfortable, but not painful and actually very relaxing after the initial pull.
Cups are left in place for 5-20 minutes, and sometimes the cups are moved around on your back in a gliding motion.

Cupping relaxes your muscles, stimulates blood flow, lymph, and Qi (energy) to the affected area and throughout your body.

One important thing to know about cupping is that although it is an effective, safe technique, you will probably be marked afterwards. The cups leave distinctive pink, red or purple circles or streaks where they are placed. The skin discoloration may last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. 

The darker the mark left by the cup, the poorer the blood circulation is in that part of the body.


Generally, the marks don’t hurt, though occasionally they may be a little sore. I always recommend that my clients drink plenty of water and take an Epsom salts bath after a cupping treatment because the salts are anti-inflammatory and can help prevent or relieve soreness.

Cupping can be repeated once the marks have cleared up.