The suction cups, also known as suction cups, are part of a physiotherapeutic treatment that is based on accumulating blood on the surface of the skin, to accelerate the healing process of various illnesses in the body, in addition to providing improvements in circulation. blood, reduce muscle aches and relieve discomfort in general.  

Benefits of suction cups

It is clinically proven that the application of this method is capable of providing a wide variety of benefits to the body. The usefulness of these massages spans several areas of health, which is why it is highly popular and recommended by physiotherapists worldwide.

They help to relax the muscles

This treatment is excellent for alleviating ailments associated with muscle contractures, this is because it helps to dispose of much of the waste substances, which have been retained in the bloodstream, which increases the arrival of nutrients to the muscles and them. they feel compelled to return to their regular functioning.

This is one of the best known benefits of this treatment, and that is why it has become popular among athletes over the past decades.

Provide analgesic effect

It is considered an effective and non-invasive method for the relief of pain of any kind, including those from chronic diseases. This happens because the local pressure in the soft tissue causes the vessels and tissues of the body to receive a greater amount of nutrients and oxygen.

Modulate the immune system

This utility is triggered by the improvements that the treatment brings to the circulatory system, since the accumulation of blood caused by suction increases the speed with which the bloodstream acts, and in turn the level of cytokine produced rises, which which strengthens the body’s immune system.

They improve the digestive process

Cupping therapy is able to also alleviate some conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, this is because many of the digestive problems are related to stress, so when this treatment is applied in the area of ​​the navel, bladder, stomach and kidneys, the patients who suffer from these ailments experience notable improvements in their condition (be it stomach pain, diarrhea or frequent loss of appetite).

They have reductive qualities

The vacuum effect caused by this instrument can also be used to lose weight. The treatment focused on this, is generally for home application, and is carried out with a silicone suction cup, with which the person massages the area in which they want to reduce centimeters. This is a slow but effective method to reduce the levels of fat in the body, so progressive sessions are needed for a month to achieve the reduction of three or four (3 or 4) centimeters in volume.

Types of suction cups

Although the procedure in almost all cases is very similar, there are several kinds of cupping that can be used for therapy. This classification is based on the materials with which they are manufactured.


They are tubular in shape and made from sectioned pieces of bamboo. They measure between three and five (3 – 5) centimeters in diameter and their length ranges between six and ten (6 – 10) centimeters. The use of this type of cupping is the least favorable for therapy, since its useful life is limited. This is because when the piece of bamboo dries, air leaks can occur that interrupt the compression. In addition to this, unlike the other types, it is not possible to observe the process through its walls.


This material is a good conductor of heat, so the suction cups made of it provide great benefits in short sessions. In addition, it is possible to observe through the glasses, which facilitates the control of the suction process.


Plastic suction cups carry fewer risks than glass or crystal, since their application does not require the use of fire; instead, rubber pears or air pumps are used that correctly comply with the suction of the skin.


It is the least used material in cupping therapy, however, in home use cupping (to lose weight) it is quite common. Its main advantage is that it is a very easy material to sterilize, so if you have good hygiene, the risk of contracting skin infections is low. Its use is generally accompanied by reducing creams and oils, which enhance its reducing capabilities.

Relevant aspects of suction cups

There are different aspects about cupping, which must be known in order to understand everything about this type of alternative medicine, among these aspects are mentioned:

Origin of treatment

The first uses of this treatment date back more than two thousand (2,000) years, and are attributed to a diversity of cultures. In the first instance, the oldest literary records that refer to this method are found in Chinese works and its application was part of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Later, both the Egyptian and Arab cultures included this treatment in their healing methods; The latter called this method by the name “Hijhama”, and believed faithfully that by combining its application with certain stages of the lunar cycle, they would obtain better therapeutic results.

Finally, in the 19th century, cupping was accepted as a clinical treatment and its use was introduced in America and Europe.

Application form

To carry out this treatment it is important to protect the skin of the person who will receive it, so it must be covered with oil, to prevent the patient from experiencing excessive pain during the session. The application of this treatment usually lasts between three and five (3 and 5) minutes.

The suction made by the glasses can occur in different ways. In the treatments carried out today, it is very common to use portable air pumps, which are responsible for eliminating the air inside the suction cup, finally causing suction.

However, in ancient Chinese practices this compression occurred by extinguishing the fire of a burning cotton held with tweezers; With this method, the pressure could become very strong at times, so it was resorted to releasing a little of the compressed air by raising the glass a little, or a massage was performed with them (moving the glasses along the area) called cupping.

Side effects of cupping

Although the use and application of this method is not considered dangerous, there are a series of risks and side effects that the patient may present after undergoing this treatment, however, most of them are minor injuries:

  • Hematomas or bruises: These spots result from the accumulation of blood generated by compression; They are not dangerous and are part of the treatment, so it should not be an alarming sign, unless they do not disappear, intensify or become painful with the passage of days.
  • Skin infections: This is not a very common effect derived from this treatment, however, in the cases of patients who have delicate skin, it is quite likely. This may be due to the body’s own reaction to the treatment or poor hygiene of the devices used in the procedure.
  • Burns: If the person in charge of using the treatment has little experience, or the patient is nervous (and is constantly moving), it is possible that accidents could happen that end in minor burns on the patient’s skin. This is possible only in cases where fire is used to carry out the treatment.

Contraindications to the use of suction cups

However, like any other procedure that involves health, this cannot be received by anyone, since there are some contraindications that limit certain people to qualify as a patient for cupping therapy. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid undergoing this type of treatment in the following cases:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Women who are in their menstruation process.
  • Patients with kidney problems.
  • Patients with heart problems.
  • People suffering from muscle spasms.
  • Individuals with metastases.

Conclusion: Is the use of suction cups recommended?

Although the effectiveness of this method has been repeatedly demonstrated in different parts of the world, there are still those who do not trust the healing qualities that cupping provides, and dare to describe the results of this treatment as a placebo effect.

However, this has not stopped the use of cupping therapy under any circumstances, and on the contrary, it is becoming a more and more popular procedure, expanding its limits towards world-renowned figures, especially athletes, such as footballer Neymar Jr and the famous Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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