The cup goes on, the cup comes off…

The cup goes on, the cup comes off…

The technique that is used to release cups has been on mind mind for a while now was really brought forward in a cupping class that I attended a little while ago.

Releasing the cup can be as important as applying it


There are many approaches to cupping therapy, it is such an incredibly versatile tool. Its amazing that cupping has become so popular in the past few years. The application of cupping can be taken in so many directions, once the main principles of cupping are attained. I have heard practitioners say that they learned ‘all they need to know about cupping’ in their one day training. That is possible, however it seems very limited. Cupping therapy has expansive possibilities, and to tell students that the course they are taking is all they need to know is limiting for everyone. The approach that I support in my courses is ‘build the fences, and play in the field.‘ I love seeing practitioners applying their own unique style to cupping and trying new things – as long as they are practicing safely.

the mind cannot perceive what it does not know’

There are many incarnations of this statement, and it holds true in many aspects our lives. This statement directs our mindset, and can act as a reminder to stay open to possibility. There is much more that we don’t know than what we do know. There is always a choice to seek out more information about something or someone, or to decide that we know enough and make appraise situations based on the current viewpoint. The same goes for cupping therapy. Practitioners may not care about the concept of Qi stagnation, or the energetic mechanisms that at work in the body when performing cupping therapy and that is totally fine. To each his own.


The discussion that I find often gets overlooked by practitioners and teachers of cupping therapy is what is occurring when the cups are released from the body. Most people are focused on the application of the cups, the location of the cups and the reaction that the cups create – all important aspects of the procedure. The release of the cups are often haphazard, and often released for the sake of drama (in fire cupping), and often not considered at all.

The only time that a cup should be released quickly or dramatically is when the practitioner is trying to stimulate the Qi energy or improve local circulation. If a patient feels fatigue and sluggishness, is not sleeping well but also not functioning well when awake. Their limbs feel heavy, and perhaps they are also gaining weight. These kinds of symptoms are often attributed to chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and many autoimmune disorders. Flicking the cups off can promote circulation, and release local congestion. In these cases the cups should not be left on very long. With flash cupping the cup is going on and off the body rapidly.

In other situations, the cups should be carefully released. With glass and silicone cups, the finger can be placed beside the cup to gently apply pressure against the skin near the cup to slowly release the seal. Plastic cups have a valve to release, it should be lifted slowly and carefully. There are two aspects to review with the release of cups. The first consideration is that the cup has been pulling the tissues for X period of time. The suction has been having an action on the surface tissues of the body, thereby opening the pores. The area effected by the cup is more vulnerable with open pores, and potentially more susceptible to absorbing anything from the atmosphere. Quick release can create a chill, as the stationary cup has just drawn more blood to the area, it will be warmer than the outside air.

The second concern is the direction in which the cup is released. When the cup draws up and out, what has been released from the body is now contained within the cup. The practitioner wants to make sure that when they release the cup, it is away from themselves and the client. Depending on the condition being treated, this could be physical and observable material. This could include sebum or clear, yellowish fluid, or even a gray substance. The air inside of the cup will be filled with stale, deal molecules as well. For those of with an understanding of the energetics of cupping, you may be aware of the ‘evil qi’ (fails in translation) inside of the cup.

Many practitioners notice a heaviness in the air after cupping. It may not have come to the attention of practitioners before now, but I suggest that you pay attention to it. Having a good ventilation system, airing out the room, working in a room with high ceilings, having a salt lamp or air purifier to absorb the impurities in the air will help to mitigate the situation.

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