Discover the Healing Power of Cupping Therapy

6 Facts That Will Have You Discussing 
Cupping Therapy Like a PRO! 

Stephanie Van Erp Massage Therapy London

Stephanie Van Erp, RMT

Pro Function Health Care Team

Cupping therapy, an alternative medicine practice rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, has gained significant attention in recent years. This ancient healing technique, which involves the use of suction cups to create negative pressure on the skin, has been used for centuries in cultures around the world. Cupping therapy is believed to improve blood circulation, promote relaxation, and alleviate pain and inflammation.

What exactly is "Cupping Therapy"

In the bustling city of London, cupping therapy has become a popular choice for individuals seeking alternative medicine treatments. Cupping therapy, often referred to as an alternative therapy, has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). While Western medicine has its own methodologies and treatments, cupping therapy offers an alternative approach that focuses on restoring balance and promoting well-being.

Brief History of Cupping Therapy

The history of cupping therapy can be traced back thousands of years and is deeply intertwined with traditional Chinese medicine. However, cupping therapy is not unique to China alone. It has also been practiced in Middle Eastern cultures, including Egypt and Iran, where it has been an integral part of their traditional healing practices.

In China, cupping therapy became an essential component of traditional Chinese medicine, which is believed to date back over 2,500 years. The techniques and principles of cupping therapy were developed and refined over many centuries. Cupping therapy gained prominence as an effective treatment for various ailments, ranging from pain relief to respiratory conditions.

Principles behind Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, which views the body as an interconnected system of energy pathways. According to TCM, the body’s vital energy, known as qi, flows along these pathways, nourishing and supporting overall health.

The negative pressure created by cupping therapy stimulates blood circulation, promoting the flow of qi. This helps to rebalance the body’s energy and restore harmony. Cupping therapy also aims to clear any blockages or stagnant energy that may be causing discomfort or pain.

In traditional Chinese medicine, health is believed to depend on the balance of opposing forces, known as yin and yang. Cupping therapy is thought to help balance these forces, promoting optimal health and well-being. By utilizing cupping techniques, practitioners seek to harmonize the energy flow, facilitating the body’s natural healing processes.

“This increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, aiding in the body’s natural healing process. Cupping therapy also enhances lymphatic drainage, helping to remove toxins and metabolic waste from the body.”

Types of Cupping Techniques

There are several different techniques of cupping therapy, each with its own unique benefits and applications. The three most commonly used methods are dry cupping, wet cupping, and fire cupping. Let’s explore each of these techniques in more detail.

Dry Cupping

Dry cupping is the most traditional and widely practiced form of cupping therapy. It involves placing cups on the skin using mild suction, which creates a negative pressure. This negative pressure draws blood to the surface of the skin, improving blood flow and promoting circulation. Dry cupping is commonly used for addressing pain, inflammation, and muscle tension. It is often utilized to alleviate conditions such as back pain, neck pain, and chronic pain.

Wet Cupping

Wet cupping, also known as Hijama, is a technique that takes dry cupping a step further. In addition to creating suction, wet cupping involves making small, controlled incisions on the skin. This allows for the extraction of small amounts of blood, toxins, and metabolic waste from the body. After the initial cupping session, a second suction cup is applied to further draw out any remaining blood or toxins. Wet cupping is believed to promote detoxification, enhance circulation, and provide relief from chronic pain.

  • Extracts small amounts of blood, toxins, and waste through small incisions
  • Promotes detoxification and enhances circulation
  • Provides relief from chronic pain

Fire Cupping

Fire cupping is a traditional technique that utilizes cups made of glass or bamboo. A flame is used to create suction inside the cup, and then the cup is quickly placed on the skin. As the cup cools, it creates a vacuum, drawing the skin and underlying tissues into the cup. Fire cupping is known for its relaxing and therapeutic effects, as well as its ability to relieve soreness and discomfort. It is often used to address conditions such as headaches, skin inflammation, and respiratory ailments.

The Science behind Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy has gained attention from the scientific community, prompting research studies and systematic reviews to evaluate its effectiveness. Through these studies, researchers have shed light on the underlying mechanisms and benefits of cupping therapy. By creating suction, cupping therapy stimulates blood flow, enhances oxygen and nutrient delivery, and triggers a response in the body’s immune function. These effects promote healing, support pain relief, and aid in overall well-being.

How does it work?

Cupping therapy works by creating suction on the skin, which draws blood to the surface and stimulates blood flow. The suction created by the cups promotes the dilation of blood vessels, increasing blood circulation to the area.

This increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, aiding in the body’s natural healing process. Cupping therapy also enhances lymphatic drainage, helping to remove toxins and metabolic waste from the body.

The suction created by cupping therapy also affects the deeper layers of muscle and fascia, causing them to stretch and relax. This can help alleviate muscle tension, promote relaxation, and improve range of motion.

Moreover, cupping therapy has been found to have an impact on blood pressure. The negative pressure created by the cups can help reduce blood pressure, promoting cardiovascular health.

In addition to its effects on blood flow and circulation, cupping therapy also stimulates the immune system. Research suggests that cupping therapy can increase the production of white blood cells, enhancing the body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases.

Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy

Numerous studies and systematic reviews have investigated the effectiveness of cupping therapy for various conditions. While the research on cupping therapy is ongoing, there is growing evidence to support its benefits.

In terms of pain relief, cupping therapy has shown promising results. It has been found effective in reducing pain associated with conditions such as back pain, neck pain, migraines, and fibromyalgia.

Cupping therapy’s ability to improve blood circulation has also been highlighted in research. By enhancing blood flow, cupping therapy can promote the healing of injuries, ease muscle soreness, and alleviate inflammation.

Furthermore, cupping therapy has been found to have positive effects on skin health. It can help reduce acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions by improving blood circulation and promoting cellular regeneration.

Cupping Therapy Can Help With:

  • Pain and Stress Relief
  • Relaxation
  • Circulation
  • Skin and Fascial Health
  • All ages / All genders
  • Acute to chronic conditions

Tradition + Innovation + Research

Interested in learning more? Here's a link to help

How Does Cupping Help with Healing and Recovery?

Fact #1 - Cupping Therapy Encourages Circulation

One of the most impressive benefits of cupping therapy is the way it improves and stimulates overall circulation. The cups dilate the blood vessels which encourages the fluids of the body to move better to their proper destinations. Improving this process increases the output of blood, which in turn increases the venous return. Veins are more superficial so they are affected first by the cupping therapy, because they are so close to the skin, not a lot of suction is need to cause an affect. Soft suction and movement toward the trunk of the body helps the valves in the veins to perform their functions. Cupping therapy can also be beneficial for high and low blood pressure in some people. Starting with soft suction is always important as the body need to time to get use to this type of therapy, with low blood pressure after treatment people may feel a little dizzy after cupping due to the sudden “rush” in their circulation, so as with other therapies make sure you take your time getting up after treatment.

Fact #2 - Cupping Therapy Alleviates Adhesions

Cupping therapy addresses adhesions, and they are defined as any two anatomical surfaces that become stuck or start growing together due to injury or inflammation. This can happen to muscles, connective tissue, visceral organs and even across body systems. During treatment when the cup is applied to the skin and they can be left in areas to just sit and affect tissue that way but the other technique is to move the cups across the skin. With movement of the cups you can feel the adhesions and they will stick in those areas.

Fact #3 - Cupping Therapy helps Clear Congestion and Stagnation

Cupping therapy helps clear stagnation which is the state of not flowing or moving. Cups help clear this which helps improve the health of the skin, muscles, bones, joints and organs. An example is, reduced or limited movement of a joint, such as frozen shoulder. Stagnation of inflammation within the joint, applying cups gives movement to the fluids and tissue which is what is needed to reduce the stagnation as well as the congestion in this specific area. The inflammation causes heat in the area which dehydrates the surrounding muscles, leading to lack of flexibility and leads to limited range of motion.

Tradition + Innovation + Research

Interested in learning more? Here's a link to help

Cupping Therapy Can Help With:

  • Pain and Stress Relief
  • Circulation
  • All ages 
  • All genders
  • Acute to chronic conditions

Fact #4 - Cupping Therapy can Lift, Rehydrate and Manipulate Fascia

Fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. When this connective tissue forms restrictions, the process of getting the tissue to release using the cups as well as massage the cupping forces hydration to pass through these fluid-rich structures, which improve then movement allowed by the fascia that may have been otherwise dehydrated and stuck. Using the cups creates negative pressure which allows for a lifting and stretching mechanism to happen, creating space in the tissue.

Fact #5 - Cupping Therapy can cause Microtrauma in Tissues

Causing trauma sounds like the wrong way to do treatment, but with cupping therapy causing beneficial inflammation helps to encourage the body’s own process of regeneration. 

So, this is where the proper suction comes into play, this idea of needing to feel pain or extreme soreness isn’t helping in the treatment of soft tissue. Walking out of a treatment with those very noticeable “bruises”, saying that must have been a great session, isn’t true. An increase to a stronger suction is something to work up to, let the tissue get use to this new treatment.

Fact #6 - Cupping Therapy Encourages Neovascularization

The process by which blood vessels form from already existing healthy vessels, bringing a fresh supply of nutrients and oxygen to previously deficient tissues. In areas of injury or damaged tissue for example physical exertion leading to a muscle tearing, cupping can stimulate this response in regional tissues, which in turn can speed recovery. If there is a severely injured tissue cupping should not be used, same as when using other treatments such as massage therapy, more damage can be caused, let the tissue heal enough before treatment is applied. 

Any Other Benefits of Cupping Therapy?

YES!  Cupping therapy offers a range of benefits, making it a popular choice for individuals seeking alternative methods of pain relief, relaxation, and improved well-being. Let’s explore some of the key benefits of cupping therapy.

Pain Relief

By enhancing blood circulation and range of motion, cupping therapy effectively reduces discomfort, soreness, and headaches. Its anti-inflammatory properties provide relief from chronic pain, aiding in conditions such as lung issues and abdominal discomfort. Additionally, small scalpel techniques are used to promote pain relief. The benefits of cupping in providing pain relief have been supported by systematic reviews, emphasizing its effectiveness beyond conventional Western medicine. This gentle treatment can be especially beneficial for individuals seeking natural pain relief, making it a valuable complement to traditional approaches.

Sport Performance and Sports Injury Recovery

Cupping therapy has been widely used in sports recovery to promote muscle relaxation and enhance performance. Athletes often benefit from the increased blood circulation facilitated by cupping, which aids in the repair of damaged tissues. The practice has gained popularity, especially after its use during the Summer Olympics. Additionally, cupping therapy may also help in alleviating conditions like anemia. A systematic review published in the “Journal of Acupuncture and Homeopathy” suggested that cupping therapy could have positive effects on sports recovery, making it a valuable adjunct to Western medicine techniques.

Enhancing Relaxation

Inducing a sense of calm and tranquility, cupping therapy enhances blood flow, facilitating relaxation and qi circulation. This ancient practice promotes relaxation by reducing nausea and bolstering immune function, leading to an overall sense of well-being. By relieving stress and tension, cupping therapy aids relaxation, supporting emotional and mental wellness. Additionally, it can help alleviate hemophilia symptoms, further enhancing the relaxation experience. Through reducing discomfort and soreness, cupping therapy offers a gentle and caring approach to promoting relaxation and enhancing overall quality of life.

Boosting Skin Health

Rejuvenating the skin, promoting relaxation and well-being, cupping therapy enhances skin health by promoting blood circulation, reducing acne and eczema symptoms, alleviating psoriasis and discoloration, and alleviating soreness and headaches. Additionally, it reduces skin inflammation and promotes relaxation. With a professional and caring approach, the benefits of cupping extend beyond pain relief and relaxation, offering a holistic approach to overall well-being, including skin health.

“Cupping therapy has been widely used in sports recovery to promote muscle relaxation and enhance performance. Athletes often benefit from the increased blood circulation facilitated by cupping, which aids in the repair of damaged tissues. .

Precautions, Possible Side Effects and Risks

Not every therapy is suitable for everyone. With that said, no matter what treatment intervention is being considered, it should not be applied without a proper health information history as well as a comprehensive exam by the practitioner.   As a patient it is your right to know what the benefits, risk and potential side-effects might be for a given treatment. 

Skin Discoloration

Minor side effects such as skin discoloration may occur after a cupping session, but these are usually temporary. It is important to note that cupping should be avoided on inflamed, broken, or sunburned skin, and also on sensitive areas like the abdomen or lower back. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions such as anemia or those using blood-thinning medications should consult a healthcare professional before trying cupping therapy to avoid any potential risks. Always seek guidance from a qualified practitioner to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Other Minor Side Effects

Minor side effects from cupping therapy, such as discomfort and soreness, are generally short-lived and mild. They may also include mild discomfort and headaches. Additionally, temporary skin discoloration and soreness may occur, but these effects usually resolve quickly. Despite these minor side effects, the benefits of cupping, as supported by a systematic review, outweigh these temporary discomforts for many. In a professional and caring manner, it’s important to address these potential effects to provide a balanced view of the use of cupping in promoting wellness and addressing specific health concerns.


In conclusion, cupping therapy is an ancient healing technique that offers a range of benefits for both physical and mental well-being. With its roots in traditional medicine, cupping therapy has been used for centuries to promote relaxation, relieve pain, and improve skin health. It has also gained popularity in the realm of sports recovery due to its ability to enhance muscle relaxation and performance. However, it’s important to note that cupping therapy may come with some minor side effects, such as skin discoloration. If you’re considering trying cupping therapy, it’s essential to prepare for your session and follow proper post-session care. While cupping therapy is generally safe, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying medical conditions. Experience the healing power of cupping therapy and discover the positive impact it can have on your overall well-being.

Stephanie Van Erp

RMT, Cupping, Infant Massage

Stephanie Van Erp was the very first Registered Massage Therapist to join our Pro Function Health Care Team and she brought with her a hunger for learning and a passion to help people. Stephanie graduated from Westervelt College’s Massage Therapy Program and is driven by her interest in human anatomy and learning new therapeutic techniques.  Stephanie is also very unique in her practice given the amount of time and effort she commits to working alongside our very our Physiotherapists and Chiropractors in an effort to understand how her approach to massage can maximize the care her clients receive.

Stephanie also takes a lot of pride in her clinical practice and works hard to provide the best care and experience for each and every visit of her patients. Therapeutically, Stephanie is well versed in Deep Tissue Massage, Prenatal massage and soft tissue Cupping techniques.

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MPT, B.Sc Kin

Physiotherapist London Ontario
Orthopaedic Physiotherapy
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Post Surgical Rehab
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Choose Brooke for:
• Hockey, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball and Running Injuries
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Brooke Edwardson

MPT, B.Sc Kin

Physiotherapist London Ontario
Orthopaedic Physiotherapy
Sports Injuries Physiotherapy
Post Surgical Rehab
Sports Team On-Field Medicine

Choose Brooke for:
• Hockey, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball and Running Injuries
• Industrial / Physically Demanding Jobs + Injuries
• Spinal, Hip and Knee Injuries
• Pre- and Post- Surgical Cases (eg. ACL Recovery after Surgery)
• Strength and Conditioning
• Sports Team Medical Coverage; Tournaments, Travel, Seasonal

If you’re an athlete, at any level, you’ll want to meet Brooke! Brooke Edwardson’s resume and skill with athletes is not only impressive, but it just keeps getting bigger and better.  Having graduated with a Masters of Physiotherapy from Western University, Brooke knew without question that she wanted to work with top athletes – and she wasted no time making her mark. 

Brooke currently see’s patients inside Pro Function’s 40,000 sq ft facility which allows her to really engage and challenge with her patients in their chosen activity/sport. She also engages athletes outside the clinic.  Currently, Brooke sits as head of the medical team and lead physiotherapist for the FC London Soccer club and she has been a member of the medical support staff at our national Canada games.   She even volunteers her time and skills annually to a number of sport charity events. 

Now that might be enough for some, but not for Brooke. 

Brooke really is passionate about growing and sharing her knowledge with others.  Knowing that, it’s really no surprise that Brooke has been accepted to a unique, one-of-a-kind Masters program that specializes in Sports Medicine here in London at Western University.  In this program Brooke will collaborate with other sports Physiotherapist, Athletic Therapists, Sports Medicine Physicians, and Surgeons.   She’ll also gain an opportunity to complete her research study with Soccer Canada and gain experience with top-tier athletes from the NBA and the NHL. 

From growing up playing competitive soccer to working alongside Varsity athletes at Western University, to working at Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, Brooke’s resume speaks for itself. 

Outside of the clinic, Brooke loves finding creative ways to stay active and is up for the challenge of trying out a new sport or skill.  She enjoys running, hiking, water sports, and of course soccer!  She also loves to travel and spend time with family and friends.