By Dr. Bingham

Cupping has been around for thousands of years, but it took someone famous like Michael Phelps to bring cupping into the mainstream. If you watched the Rio Olympics, you might have noticed bizarre purple circular marks on Michael Phelps back, these are cupping marks. These marks are from the blood that is pulled up during the process of cupping.

In order to better understand this therapy I decided to try cupping. I sought out local licensed acupuncturist, Tim Moriarty at Eastern Wind Acupuncture. In order to explain the procedure and benefits I decided to leave it to Tim, his description is as follows:


“Cupping is a modality within the framework of Chinese Medicine, that has been around for thousands of years, in which a local suction is created on the skin. It is used to promote healthy, oxygenated blood flow to an area of the body that is either inflamed, tight, or painful. The skin is gently drawn upwards by creating a vacuum with the cup. The cup(s) stay in place for 5-20 minutes. Cupping is used to treat scarring, muscular-skeletal disorders, spinal conditions, and connective tissue concerns. It decreases swelling, reduces inflammation, and relieves tight, painful muscles. It is used either as a stand alone practice, or in conjunction with acupuncture. It also pulls toxins from the tissues of the body, for people who might have chronic toxicity. It is generally painless, deeply relaxing, and a wholly comfortable experience.”


After a thorough history we made our way to the treatment table where I laid face down. The cups, image tiny fish bowls, were place on my back in various places and a suctioning device was used to remove the air inside the cup to create a suction. The intensity of the suction can be varied based by how many “pumps” the practitioner uses. Tim checked in with me as he was increasing the suction to ensure I was still comfortable. After we reached the desired intensity I was left on the table to let the cups do their magic. (see pic)cupping-tim-moriarty-indianapolis

As you rest on the table you are aware of the suction from the cups, but it is not uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure exactly how long I was on the table with the cups, but it’s seemed to be around 10 minutes. Tim came back in the room and removed the cups individually and viola, I was left with these bright purple spots on my back just like Michael Phelps (see pic).


I immediately felt lighter and my breathing felt less restricted.   I had also been dealing with some left sided shoulder tension which also felt improved following the cupping.

From talking with Tim I learned that cupping has a variety of applications from aches and pains to detoxification. From my perspective I can see how cupping would be helpful four our patients at Compass Chiropractic and would recommend a consultation with Tim to see if cupping can help you.