August 23, 2021 Physical Therapy of Milwaukee

Therapeutic cupping: Uses & benefits

© 2019 Ruthie Hauge Photography |

Therapeutic cupping gained popularity during the summer Olympics when we saw circular bruises all over Michael Phelps in 2016. So, was it just a fad or is it still a relevant treatment? Cupping has a long history with references going back as far as ancient Egypt. It is used all over the world for a wide variety of ailments, with many different techniques.


Therapeutic cupping in Physical therapy


In the realm of physical therapy we use cupping to help stretch the muscles and tissues beneath the skin. The pull caused by the cup will facilitate blood flow to that area to address tightness and soreness in the muscles.


There are many different types of cups, but usually plastic or silicone cups are used in the physical therapy clinic. These types use air pressure to pull the skin up into the cup. As the cups draw the skin, underlying muscles, and tissues upward, they pull blood to the surface, releasing adhesions and trigger points in muscles, while also increasing oxygen flow to the area to promote healing. The cups come in many different sizes to allow treatments to any body part.


Cupping is a great supplement to traditional therapy as it helps to decrease muscle tension, soreness and improves mobility of tissues to allow increased range of motion. In therapeutic cupping, practitioners commonly place the cups over the area of pain or tension and leave them in place for 5 to 10 minutes.


Moreover, you can place the cups on areas of tightness and then perform restricted or painful movements. While the cup is in place it stretches the tissues throughout the range of motion and often allows improved motion with less pain, promoting correct movement patterns.


Finally, you can position the cups and move them in various directions while maintaining tension along the muscle. This method is particularly beneficial for stretching larger muscle groups or addressing broader areas of pain. Therapeutic cupping has been a longstanding method for enhancing mobility and aiding in the restoration of normal movement patterns. They are a great supplement to therapy to decrease pain and irritation. Especially with activities in normal daily life as well as with sports and recreational activities.

Contact us to schedule an appointment or free screen today!