Jun 6, 2023

There are many forms of cupping therapy, but they all fundamentally work towards 4 key results:  

Improving blood flow 

Reducing pain 

Increasing mobility 

Improving movement 


The type of cupping we use here at The Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic  is myofascial mobilisation cupping as it is intended to form part of the treatment, rather than be a stand alone treatment. We mainly use medical-grade silicone cups, because they enable us to move, push and pull the fascia more easily, often getting the patient to participate too. We do sometime use plastic cups, which still “vacuum” cup, however a hand held suction pump is used to create targeted suction pressures. 


  1. How does cupping therapy work?

Cupping works by suctioning the skin into a vacuum, which in turn causes an increase in blood flow to the area and a local histamine response which improves healing and pain. Cupping improves tissue mobility, improves recovery time and alleviates stiffness by desensitising the nervous system and improving lymphatic drainage.  


  1. What are the different types of cupping therapy?

Cupping is most used with glass, plastic or silicone cups. Dry cupping is when the cups are left in place on the body or used to push and pull across the fascia. Wet cupping is when incisions are made and fluids such as blood are extracted. Fire cupping is when a flame is used to heat the cup. We only use dry cupping and do not extract any fluids or use fire when cupping at the Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic. Cupping can be used in conjunction with other mobilisation methods or acupressure methods, as well as other soft tissue therapies.  

  1. Is cupping therapy safe?

Yes, cupping therapy is safe if carried out by a practitioner who has been trained to do so properly. At The Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic, we only use medical-grade silicone or plastic cups and do not extract blood or use fire. The methods we use are extremely safe and used by individuals with a background of formal training in soft tissues, physiology, and sport.

  1. What are the benefits of cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy or myofascial cupping can have many benefits, which include increased blood circulation, improved healing times in sub-acute injuries, increased lymphatic drainage, pain reduction, increased mobility, reduced stiffness in chronic conditions and trapped nerve relief. Cupping, alongside other manual therapy techniques, can leave individuals with a sense of relief of their painful symptoms and the ability to move better, which in turn creates better movement patterns that do not cause as much pain or stiffness and help the rehab process feel more achievable.  

  1. How long does a cupping therapy session last?

A cupping therapy session at the Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic may only last 5 to 10 minutes but it can be anything up to 20 minutes. The cupping therapy is a complement to other treatment modalities and isn’t usually a standalone treatment here, so it forms part of a 30 minute, 45 minute or 60 minute appointment. 

  1. How many cupping therapy sessions do I need?

Your therapist may think cupping is required in each of your sessions and sometimes it may be more suitable in alternate sessions.  Every person is different, with different needs and requirements, so everything is tailored to you. Patients often specifically ask for this form of treatment during their maintenance sessions as they feel it is a beneficial add on, commonly in individuals with non-specific low back pain, tight upper traps and sports people with various requirements. 

  1. What should I expect during a cupping therapy session?

Your therapist will talk you through the benefits and potential side effects of using cupping on you. For example, often the inflammatory response from cupping causes bruises due to the micro-trauma that forms part of the healing process. You may not want these side effects and so other treatment options will be discussed. If it has been agreed that cupping should enhance your treatment, then the therapist will carry out the manual techniques deemed appropriate for the condition, and the cupping will form part of this treatment. The cups may be on your body for up to 10 minutes and you will likely be asked to do some movement with them on. This can feel slightly odd at first. Sometimes the cups will be used to glide across the fascia and skin to enhance blood flow and the benefits if suitable for the condition being treated.  

  1. What areas of the body can be treated with cupping therapy?

Cupping can used over most of the body, except orifices, fresh wounds or new scars, cancerous moles, irritated skin or thinning skin. We do not do face cupping here at The Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic. The most common areas we use cupping on our patients tend to be the lower back, shoulders and neck, arms, legs and soles of the feet / plantar fascia. 

  1. Are there any side effects or risks associated with cupping therapy?

You must disclose all relevant medical information so your therapist can deem it appropriate for your issue. However, there are very few side effects associated with dry cupping and mobilisation / myofascial cupping. The most common, and perhaps most recognised, side effect of cupping are the bluey/purple circles left after the treatment. Not everyone ends up with these, but it is very common. They can last up to 7 days, fading as each day passes, just like a bruise. On occasion, they can feel a little tender for a day or two. Another possible side effect is a spell of dizziness, but in our experience here in clinic, much less common. 

11. How does myofascial cupping differ from traditional cupping therapy?

Myofascial cupping is a form of dry cupping where the focus is on myofascial release, pain relief and mobility. The cups are placed in relation to muscles and fascia and are sometimes moved around, pushed and pulled, often with the patient contributing to the movement too. This type of cupping treatment usually lasts for approximately 10 minutes. This is unlike “traditional” cupping therapy where the cups are kept in once place for a more significant amount of time (sometimes up to an hour) and the treatment may be targeting a specific condition such as acne or IBS. Myofascial cupping does not extract fluids like blood, or use fire. 

12. What is Rockpod cupping?

Rockpod cupping is myofascial cupping using medical-grade silicone cups developed by the movement and mobility company Rocktape. Rockpods were developed by Rocktape a few years ago to effectively help westernise this ancient eastern Chinese medicine treatment, specifically to help improve movement and reduce pain. Using Rockpods, the therapist can explore tissue gliding, traction and decompression of the tissues with these easy to use cups. They nicely complement other movement improvement tools such as kinesiology taping and instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation.  

13. How does Rockpod cupping differ from traditional cupping therapy?

Rockpod cupping is effectively myofascial cupping. Rockpods are the “brand” of cups being used and the therapist that uses them has usually completed Rocktape’s Rockpod and Rockpod Glides course. Katie at the Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic has completed Rocktape’s Rockpod cupping course and uses both their standard Rockpods and their Rockpod Glides. Using medical-grade silicone cups allows greater ability to move, push and pull the fascia when treating. Traditional cupping is usually focused on a condition such as fertility or skin conditions and so the cups are placed on the body for a much longer period and in a more acupressure point style system. 

14. Who can perform cupping therapy, myofascial cupping, and Rockpod cupping? 

As with all modalities, it is important to find someone who has taken the right courses and qualifications. Sadly, there are people who carry out these treatments with little training and without a background in soft tissue physiology. That is why it is important to look for people who work in reputable clinics, like The Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic, and who are a qualified physiotherapist, osteopath or soft tissue therapist etc with a deep level of understand of the musculoskeletal system and who have taken high quality courses in this discipline. Cupping at The Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic is a complement to the main treatment and is used if deemed appropriate by your therapist and you have given informed consent. 

15. How do I find a qualified cupping therapy practitioner?

You can find one right here at The Jersey Sports and Spinal Clinic, as Katie has a diploma in soft tissue therapy, has taken Rocktape’s certified Rockpod course and has also completed OMT’s international diploma in myofascial cupping therapy for the treatment of myofascial pain. If you are looking outside of Jersey, Channel Islands, then Rocktape have a list of “Rockdocs” on their website and their locations, so this would be a good starting point.