Sliding Cupping: A Hidden Gem from Ancient China

Are you in a never-ending battle with sore and aching muscles? Is there an area of your body that just won’t relax no matter what you try?

Are you suffering with a stiff neck or tight shoulders? Does your back constantly ache? Are your glutes, hamstrings, quads, IT bands or calves pulled to their limit? Have you pulled a muscle or are you struggling with sciatica?

If this sounds at all familiar, then sliding cupping is for you!

Cupping is an ancient Chinese technique used to circulate blood and loosen tight muscles. While stationary cupping is more traditional, what I use primarily here at Blitz is “sliding cupping.” Not only is sliding cupping much more modern, but I find that it works much better to relax the muscles, fascia and surrounding area than its traditional counter-part.

Think of sliding cupping as a reverse massage for your muscles.  Instead of adding pressure and pushing the tissue DOWNWARDS, the suction used in sliding cupping pulls everything UPWARDS, allowing for fresh, oxygenated blood to circulate through tight muscles, stubborn knots and irritated fascia. The cup is able to slide while retaining its suction when we use massage oil to provide glide to the area that we are working on, which commonly feels like a deep-tissue massage. Clients absolutely LOVE cupping and the technique quickly becomes one of their favorite treatments. After their first cupping experience, I then have clients requesting it all the time!

The action of sliding the cup also greatly reduces the circular bruising often associated with cupping. When the cups are left stationary, the suction causes the bruising to be much, much more. As we are constantly sliding the cups over the body and changing their direction, there is less chance of bruising and being left with big circular hickey marks on your body!

FYI: There is no pain associated with the bruising and the marks typically go away within 3 – 5 days, if you get any at all. The relief from the cupping is so good that most of my clients don’t mind a little bruising!

Sliding cupping can be used as a stand-alone treatment to loosen up the muscles or can be used in addition to needling. When a patient comes in with a stiff neck, tight traps, a sore back, tight hamstrings or stubborn IT bands, I almost always do sliding cupping on the area to relax it first. By loosening the muscles and fascia beforehand, this calms and desensitizes the area, allowing for gentler needling. After cupping, the area becomes so relaxed that most times patients hardly even feel the needles!

Cupping also works to detoxify the body and improve lympahtic drainage. Women also love it as a conjunctive therapy to lessening the look of cellutite when combined with proper exercise and a healty diet. Everyone from Gweneth Paltrow to Victoria Beckham has been photographed with slight cup marks following treatments.

Whether you are looking to try out a variation of a traditional massage or if you have tried everything else to loosen an area and nothing has worked, give sliding cupping a try. With or without needles, it is one of the hidden gems of Chinese Medicine!




About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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