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Cupping Treatment

Accessory Techniques - Cupping & Gua Sha

How should I prepare for my treatment?

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that will allow us access to your body.  Know that we might ask you to undress depending on the area requiring attention.

  • Be sure to eat a snack or small meal an hour or two before your appointment.

  • If possible, avoid strenuous activity or exercise after your treatment. 

  • Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine before and after.

  • Do drink plenty of water after your treatment.

  • Do protect the area that had work done from the elements.

  • Contraindications: Avoid use if you have severe diseases, such as cardiac or renal failure, ascites due to liver disease, severe edema, hemorrhagic diseases or patients on blood thinners, acute stages of psoriasis, eczema, or allergic dermatitis, active shingles or urticaria, over low back or abdomen during pregnancy, over large blood vessels or varicose veins or hernias, broken bones, atrophied muscles, slipped discs, and patients with pacemakers and implants.

What does the treatment consist of?

Cupping and gua sha are techniques that have been part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years and can be used to liberate the body from pathology lying deep within the tissues.  Similar to a deep tissue massage, cupping and gua sha help the body pull fresh oxygenated blood into an area with congested circulation, releases toxins, increases lymphatic flow, relaxes tight muscles, reduces inflammation, and aid in recovery.

Together we will review your medical history, health concerns, and current medications, including a discussion of your main concern and any related areas that may help get a clear picture of your current and past health history.

Cupping is a therapy that includes heat and suction and typically leaves temporary marks at the cupping site.  Sterilized cups are used.  This therapy is frequently used on the back over large muscle areas, although it may be applied to other areas of the body.  Generally, cupping can be done stationary or as moving cupping.  With moving cupping a lotion or liniment is applied to the body, and cups are slid along the body's surface. 


Gua Sha is the process of moving a tool, such as a porcelain spoon, across the muscles and skin.  Similarly, a lotion or liniment is applied to allow the tool to glide across the surface.  Sterilized gua sha tools are used.

Cupping and gua sha can leave noticeable marks, called sha, and although they are considered therapeutic and normal, they are not painful but can take three to seven days to heal.  Often they are little dots that come in a variety of colors, but typically red or purple.


Most commonly these therapies are used for aches and pains, including neck and back pain, limb pain, shoulder tension, and fibromyalgia.  They can also be helpful to open up the chest and benefit the lungs to treat cough, bronchitis, and asthma.  It can even benefit menstrual and digestive problems, including stomaches, vomiting and diarrhea.  

What about after?

As with most modalities, the effects vary among individuals and is based on your sensitivity as well as the treatment strategy itself.  Muscular pain and tension should be decreased and similar to other forms of bodywork you may continue to feel the work unravel tensions up to 24-48 hours after the session.  It is always good to drink extra water or if you enjoy baths, take an Epsom salt bath after your treatment.  Your practitioner will make a professional recommendation for a treatment plan, potentially including self-care, as follow up work may be needed and regular treatments are encouraged every 4-6 weeks to maintain your body's innate wellness. 

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