Cupping is an ancient technique used in many cultures with many different purposes/techniques. It includes wet and dry cupping, but this post is focused on dry cupping. Dry cupping is commonly used to treat pain/musculoskeletal disorders. The most common technique is using a small round glass with a rolled rim to ensure uniform and air-tight contact with the skin to create a vacuum effect. In physical therapy, plastic cups are more commonly used to create the suctioning. The suctioning effect created can be used in physical therapy to help increase blood flow to the area, as well as be used as a deep soft tissue mobilization.
The cups are typically left on the skin for 5-20 minutes, and will typically leave a ring or mark on the skin consistent with a bruise. Cupping is commonly used to treat soft tissue restrictions (tight muscles, “knots”) and occasionally used for scar tissue mobilization after a surgery. Rozenfeld, E., Kalichman, L. (2016). New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 20, 173-178.
Article written by: Paul James, PT, DPT
Title: Physical Therapist Education: Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology, Michigan State University, Doctor of Physical Therapy, A.T. Still University
Paul James is a physical therapist at Peak Performance Physical Therapy. His higher education began at Michigan State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology. He went on to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ. In his personal life, Paul serves as an assistant coach for the Capital Area Patriots ice hockey team. He also enjoys physical fitness, as well as playing and watching many sports.