Cupping therapy

Cupping therapy is a medical treatment dating back thousands of years and practised all over the world, from ancient Egypt and Greece to the Sahara, and Middle and Far East. It formed part of medieval medicine in Britain and has found its way into mainstream physiotherapy practice today.

How does it help?

The scientific evidence base for cupping therapy is growing, with promising results in pilot studies and calls for research on a larger scale.


Today, cupping is used to treat a wide range of conditions from neck and shoulder pain, to back pain and even herpes zoster (shingles).


How does cupping work?

The vacuum action of the cups improves blood flow to the local area, frees fascia to improve mobility, and triggers a healing response in the body.

What happens during a treatment?

During a cupping treatment, glass or plastic cups are suctioned onto the skin. They may be left in place or lubricated with medicated oil and moved over the skin.


Cupping carried out by a qualified therapist may leave marks on the skin that fade quickly and disappear within a few days.

Who has cupping?

Cupping is suitable for most people, including children and pregnant women. There are some contraindications, which a qualified therapist will take into account before deciding whether or not to use cupping.


Contraindications include thin skin, blood clotting disorders and higher doses of blood thinning medication. Tell your therapist if any of these apply to you.

Cupping has received attention in the media over the years, with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and top athletes like Michael Phelps showing off their cupping marks.