Cupping is a form of manual therapy that we can offer if you do come to our clinic for treatment. There are many forms of cupping, including the more traditional cupping where the cups are made of glass and fire is used to create the suction pressure. Our more modern take on cupping therapy as physiotherapists are slightly different than traditional forms of cupping.
Rather than on the perspective of healing, we primarily use cupping as a treatment to improve pain or range of motion and movement. Research seems to agree on applications of cupping therapy for these purposes.
Similar to trigger point dry needling, the mechanism of action of cupping is yet to be fully established despite its effects being definitively observed.
Due to both history and availability of modern technology, there are now many forms of cupping therapy available to the public. There are various materials of cupping now, traditionally glass cups were used, now plastic and silicone are available. Various suction methods are available as well now, traditionally with flame, now with suction pumps or manual (by hand with flexible cups). There are also other forms of cupping: dry cupping, wet cupping (with oil), and some practitioners use herbs and/or medication in the cups.
As physiotherapists, the primary cupping method we use in the clinic is using plastic/silicone cups using manual or suction pumps for safety reasons; let's avoid flames when we can ;) . These also typically reduce the incidence of bruising from cupping as the suction pressure is well controlled. While the cup is present, we can perform and challenge certain movements to improve mobility, pain, or control of movement –these would be our primary goal for cupping as a treatment as physiotherapists.
There are other health practitioners out there who use cupping for different health reasons and may use different forms of cupping therapy as they have a different end goal. We don’t necessarily think one form of treatment is better than the other – as long as that treatment fulfills its goal and purpose.
In conclusion, people ask: what do we do? We can do cupping, but why? The same reasons we do everything else that we do: improve pain, mobility, control, strength, and performance. Nothing different, just another way to do it.