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  • Charlotte Morgan, MS, LAc

Fire Cupping vs. Hand Pump Cupping



As cupping therapy gains popularity in the wellness community, there are multiple different techniques offered depending on who is administering the treatment, and their personal preference.


Fire Cupping


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we typically use fire cupping, which involves putting a flame into a glass or bamboo cup, creating a vacuum when placed onto the skin. In China, fire cupping has been recorded as early as 281-314 AD.


Hand Pump Cupping


Popular with chiropractors and physical therapists, hand pump cupping involves plastic cups with a hand pump that sucks the air out once it is already placed onto the skin, creating a vacuum.


The Difference


Fire cupping has the essential element of heat. In Chinese medicine, heat is a crucial factor in promoting the circulation of Qi and blood, especially in areas of pain or stagnation. Heat combined with the suction of the cups further promotes the circulation of lymph, the breaking up of adhesions, and soothing of sore muscles. The suction experienced during fire cupping not only feels amazing, but feels different compared to hand pump cupping. This is due to the added element of heat, the gentle yet firm nature of the suction, and the wide smooth rim of the glass cup. I often use essential oils on the skin before placing the cups on different areas of the body. This allows me to slide the cups across the muscle, evenly breaking up adhesions and fascia.


Patients often ask me whether cupping is painful, mostly because of the marks that it can leave on the skin. These marks are not from any sort of damage to the tissue, but rather from old stagnant blood that has been pulled to the surface from the deeper muscles and tissue below. When this occurs, the underlying muscle regains free circulation, fresh blood, and ultimately leads to a faster recovery. Cupping marks can remain on the skin for a few minutes or up to a few days. Both are normal depending on your unique condition. All in all, cupping feels incredible and I encourage anyone and everyone to give it a try. I invite you to come by my office for a complimentary consultation or message me with any questions.




With Love,




Charlotte Morgan, L.Ac.


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