Is Cupping The New Trend?

It’s not a trend, it is ancient Chinese medicine that has been around for centuries.

Cupping was all over the news in August 2016 with Michael Phelps covered in cup marks, winning gold at the Rio Olympics. Contrary to the rumours, Phelps was not attacked by an octopus during his training sessions.  Phelps and the USA team used the ancient Chinese traditional method of cupping as a therapeutic treatment to help relieve muscular tension, aches and pain.


Many of my clients have enjoyed the benefits of cupping and the relief they obtain from their muscle aches and pains. A systematic review on cupping therapy was published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences and according to Caoa, H et al. (2014), they concluded:

“This review suggests a potential positive short-term effect of cupping therapy on reducing pain intensity compared with no treatment, heat therapy, usual care, or conventional drugs.”


It involves briefly applying a flame to glass cups, then gently placing the cups to the skin, which creates a strong suction. This suction encourages new blood flow through the muscles and tissue to help with the healing process.

Sliding cups is a common variation of cupping. This involves applying massage wax to the skin before the cups are applied. The cups are then gently moved up and down the meridian channels along the area being treated. Most clients describe ‘sliding cups’ as similar to a deep tissue massage. When the cups are removed, they leave a circular bruise the exact same size as the cup. Applied correctly, the process is painless. However, the cup marks may last for several days. The colour left by the cup mark can range from pink to dark purple. The more blood stagnation there is, the darker the cup marks. Blood stagnation is simply a blockage of old blood that needs to be released to enable qi and new blood to flow through and heal the muscles and tissues.

To further relax the muscles after cupping, I apply a liniment such as Chinese White Flower Oil, or Tui Balm’s Sports Massage & Body Balm, which is massaged into the body using tuina strokes.


Cupping can also assist with reducing symptoms associated with the common cold and flu, help treat rheumatic conditions and a variety of skin conditions (e.g. acne).

At Mei Ling Acupuncture & Natural Health Clinic, cupping is just one of the ancient Chinese methods we use. It is important that the practitioner understands their client’s medical condition and energetic flow, as cupping may not be suitable for everyone. Often, a combination of methods is tailored for each individual client treatment to help get their health back on track again.

For further information or to book a free 15-minute consult with one of our qualified practitioners, please call us on 499 9062 or email: