Cups for cuppingAbout Zen Hands



Cupping is a type of therapeutic technique within the Chinese medicine (TCM) framework. In this article I will introduce you to the basic concepts and discuss the various benefits and effects.


Cupping is actually a type of reverse massage. In a western massage such as Deep Tissue, Swedish etc, pressure is applied via fingers and elbows to get muscle fibres to "release" or let go. Fibres are squeezed by the applied pressure pushing blood in and lactic acid out - in a manner of speaking. Cupping uses a moderate vacuum to pull the skin, the underlying tissues and their fibres apart to open vessels and allow blood to flow through nourishing them so in case of muscles the J junction fibres release.

Cupping, Fire Cup

In Fire Cups I use a small alcohol fire to briefly heat the air inside a specially designed glass "cup" and then place it quickly on the skin thus sealing the cup. As the air inside cools it contracts and creates gentle suction that does the work.

Cups are placed over a channel, an area of body that is deficient, cold, in excess or over an acupoint* as needed. The amount or vacuum and the time taken allow me to achieve many different results. At times I would follow with moxa to help expel cold cold present in the channel or point all in the context of a Chinese medicine, Japanese therapy or Shiatsu treatments.

Many types of cups have been invented with some that don't use fire at all such as in Japanese Needle therapy. These make use of a small attachable hand pump to draw the air out and create suction. These are known as Korean Cups.


I love the simplicity which allows me to focus more on the treatment and not on the tools.


Cupping is typically quite relaxing and is rarely painful. In the case of stuck painful cases it does however leave temporary round circle marks that are easy to mistake for bruising which it isn't. They disappear without further action in a few hours to a day or two. One needs to be mindful if a photography, an interview meeting or such activity is planned in the near future Typically they disperse within a few hours.

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* Acupoint is an alternative term for Acupressure or Acupuncture point. It is not a trigger point.

** This would be a deep tissue or remedial session unless otherwise requested. In either case should your condition indicate cupping I will discuss it with you at the time.


Updated 23/3/19

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