Cupping For Back Pain

Contributing Writer  * Moses Idowu, B.Pharma 

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Courtesy of Cupping Warehouse TM.

Traditional Cupping is an ancient old world therapy that’s based on the belief that certain health problems can be caused by stagnant blood and a poor energy flow through your body. Traditional Cupping therapy can be defined as an ancient type of alternative medicine in which a practitioner places special cups on the skin for a couple of minutes in a bid to create suction. To fix or prevent those health issues, cupping practitioners apply cups—typically glass or silicone—to your skin to create a pressure that sucks your skin inward. Traditional Cupping is a form of alternative medicine that does not use the ingestion or use of any medicines. Therefore, the risks that are involved considerably lower than others, and there are little to sometimes  no side effects. If you find yourself in pain and have used up all options that generally are used and have opted out of continuing the use of traditional medicine, then Cupping might be just what you are looking for. There are numerous reasons as to why people decide to undergo cupping therapy. Today, with the popularity of Modern Cupping, many people have taken to cupping to help with their pain management, inflammation, blood flow, general wellbeing, relaxation and of course as a form of deep tissue massage.

History of Cupping

The origin of Traditional Cupping is unclear. For over 3,000 years, the practice has been typically performed unsupervised by medical professionals and as folk medicine. Iranian traditional medicine uses wet-cupping practices, with the belief that cupping with scarification may eliminate scar tissue, and cupping without scarification would cleanse the body through the organs.  The Ebers Papyrus, written c. 1550 BC and one of the oldest medical textbooks in the Western world, describes the Egyptians' use of cupping, while mentioning similar practices employed by Saharan peoples. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (c. 400 BC) used cupping for internal disease and structural problems. The method was highly recommended by Muhammad and hence well-practiced by Muslim scientists who elaborated and developed the method further. Consecutively, this method in its multiple forms spread into medicine throughout Asian and European civilizations. In China, the earliest use of cupping that is recorded is from the famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (281–341 A.D.). Cupping was also mentioned in Maimonides' book on health and was used within the Eastern European Jewish community.

As of 2012 cupping was most popular in China with a rapid resurgence of Traditional Cupping and Modern Cupping in the Western World. Cupping has been a formal modality in Chinese hospitals since 1950

How does it work for back pain?

According to Modern Cupping, suction from the cup is applied to the points that are causing you pain or along muscle groups and abnormal fascial patterns. The cups can be "parked" (which is called Static Cupping) or "moving" (which is called dynamic cupping). For Static, a cup can be placed on one spot and left for up to 3 minutes for Modern Cupping or up to 20 mins for Advanced Traditional Cupping. After a brief flash of ischemia (restriction of blood flow) and Hypoxia (restriction of oxygen), the blood flow begins to increase in the area within the vessels and capillaries which ease the muscles and helps to supply nutrients and oxygen that your tissue sorely needs.

Cupping can target these points of pain accurately and naturally reduce joint or muscle pain. Cupping works to release the tension in the tissue in your body and in doing so can relax these sore muscles, ease neck and back pain, and relax tired and tense muscles.

Cupping is essentially the inverse of the typical massage therapy. Instead of exerting pressure on the different points of the body for healing, Cupping uses suction to tug or decompress the skin, tissues, and muscles upwards forcing fresh blood to reach the areas that have aches and pains and in doing so help kickstart and quicken the healing process.

When the practitioner exerts suction on the different points on the body by way of Cupping, certain changes occur inside the body. These changes stimulate the body to heal itself. 

The results are:

  • Softening the tightened muscles.
  • Supplying oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
  • Loosening of adhesions and knots.
  • Opening the blockages of the lymphatic nodes and easing the flow of lymph.
  • Promoting the flow of blood to the muscles and tissues, and removing stagnation.
  • Lifting the connecting tissues.
  • Drawing inflammation from the deeper tissues to the surface of the skin so they can heal.
  • Releasing and draining of excess fluids and toxins like lactic acid from the tissues and cells.
  • Eliminating chronic congestion
  • Stimulating and later, calming the peripheral nervous system.

Things you should know before cupping

You will get cupping marks, sometimes called bruises, from your cupping sessions. These bruises can typically last for anything from a couple of days to almost two weeks.  One thing of note, is that if you engage in multiple cupping treatment sessions over a period of several weeks you will discover that the resulting bruises gotten from this treatment will significantly decrease. This happens due to the fact that the stagnation of blood and other fluids in that area of the body are being resolved. When this happens, it signifies that your cupping treatment is working as it should.

Some might believe that cupping is in fact painful due to the bruises that most people have on them after a session of cupping, but the truth is cupping is actually quite a pleasant experience. So pleasant in fact, that most people report not actually feeling any discomfort of any kind. Some individuals have even proclaimed that during their cupping treatment they felt adequately soothed.


Before you embark on your cupping journey to help relieve your back pain, it is important that you take the time to find a practitioner that is experienced in cupping.  Many of these trained healthcare practitioners trained in cupping will encourage you to perform home cupping in between your professional setting for more rapid results.  You should be able to feel comfortable with your practitioner and have the peace of mind that they have your best interests at heart and know what they are doing. The aim of every cupping session regardless of what your ailments are is to help alleviate your stress, release stagnant fluids located in the area and of course promote the flow of fresh blood and nutrients to the cupped area, thereby ensuring that any semblance of pain is can be reduced.