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What is cupping?

Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine dating back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. The Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, describes how this ancient therapy was used by the Egyptians in 1550 B.C.

How is cupping used?

Dry cupping is used in Physical Therapy as a form of medical myofascial release and soft tissue decompression. The cups are placed on the skin, creating a local suction to mobilize the soft tissues, increase circulation, improve lymphatic drainage, and promote healing. The vacuum can cause the skin to rise and redden as it increases the circulation. The cups will stay in place for several minutes, typically 3-10, and are then removed. The cup may also be dragged across the skin for a more massage-like treatment.

Common conditions treated:

  • Myofascial areas of tension and decreased mobility

  • Back pain

  • Headaches

  • Tendonitis and Bursitis

  • ITB Syndrome

  • Carpal-tunnel Syndrome

  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

  • Joint pain and arthritis

  • Post-surgical scar mobilization

  • Concussion and Whiplash Associated Disorders


What to expect:

Cupping is not used only by itself as treatment. It is simply one modality utilized by Physical Therapists to assist treatment and achieve the overall desired patient outcomes. The ultimate goal of Physical Therapy is to increase mobility, improve movement patterns, and improve general stability for long-term self management.

Is cupping safe?

Cupping is safe and effective for many conditions. It not performed on skin that is thin, fragile, or damaged. It is not performed in patients with active cancer or those using blood thinners.

The research regarding cupping therapy is divided, but this should not diminish the reality of the results achieved. As cupping therapy becomes more popular and more studies are performed, the science and efficacy behind this modality will be further explored and explained. If you are interested in having cupping done, please consult with your physical therapist.


Kinesio-tape (K-Tape) is an elastic tape that was first developed in Japan in the late 1970's. It is a latex-free, water resistant tape that can be applied to all populations of people and worn for several days at a time.

K-Tape is applied in varying ways, depending on the area being treated and the targeted outcome. Single or multiple strips of tape may be used for each body part. The practitioner will apply the tape in different directions and/or varying degrees of stretch to elicit the desired response. The direction the tape is applied will either stimulate or relax the muscles, and the amount of stretch applied will determine how much recoil the tape has on the skin, thus effecting the sensors of the skin and underlying muscles. Due to this tape's elastic nature, range of motion from a muscle/joint is not restricted.

K-Tape can be used for a number of conditions including but not limited to, decreasing pain and inflammation, decreasing muscle and facial tension, increasing muscle activation, providing support to muscles and joints, increasing lymphatic drainage, and desensitizing neurological conditions. Additionally, K-Tape can be used in conjunction with any exercise, therapy, or modality.

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