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Cupping on Horses??  For Real?


Over the last number of years Cupping Therapy has appeared as a popular modality for both humans and animals.  More and more manual therapists are now testing out this incredible treatment option on their animals...especially horses!

The benefits of Cupping Therapy include promotion of blood flow, increasing pain thresholds, improving local anaerobic metabolism, reducing inflammation, and alteration of the cellular immune system. On a general, systemic level, there is converging evidence that Cupping induces comfort and relaxation and helps healing due to the increased blood flow affecting the deeper tissue, removing fascial restrictions, and thereby causing an increase in range of motion.  

Research has also shown that Cupping increases red blood cells, loosens adhesions, revitalizes connective tissue, increases blood flow to the skin and muscles, stimulates the peripheral nervous system, reduces pain, and modulates the immune system.  

The most common general benefits of Cupping include:

  • Increased circulation, metabolic response, digestion, and lymphatic flow.

  • Reduced muscle discomfort, tension, and stress.

  • Increased feelings of relaxation and well-being.

Cupping is generally considered a safe therapy with minor side effects such as erythema, edema, and ecchymosis in the characteristic circular “Cupping mark”. The longer a cup is left on the skin and the higher the tensile stress inside of the cup, the higher chance that a circular mark is created due to capillary dilation. 

Is Cupping a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment?

The exact origin of Cupping is not precisely known and there are conflicting opinions about the pioneers of this ancient technique.  Some consider the Chinese to be the inventors of Cupping, while the earliest pictographic records suggest that it was the ancient Egyptians who “invented” it.   Cupping Therapy has been practiced in various cultures around the world in one form or another for decades.  Historical examples of a vacuum being used to are included in the works of the celebrated Persian physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna) of the 10th century AD.

As has been the case for centuries, Cupping has never been – and is still not – the exclusive practice of any cultural group, social level, or therapeutic profession.

Do I need a special machine to perform this treatment?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Don't get us wrong, there are some amazing and incredible electric cupping machines available on the market - but you absolutely do NOT need to spend thousands of dollars on an electric vacuum apparatus to perform Cupping Therapy on your horse.  

Part of the argument for some of the expensive machines is that they are specifically designed to be quiet to not startle horses and they have mechanisms designed especially for a body that is covered in hair.

As you will see through our website, you can use ANY Cupping Therapy device for your just need to modify how you use it! 

How does it work?

The theoretical constructs surrounding the use of Cupping differ significantly between Eastern and Western healthcare practitioners. Cupping in the Eastern, traditional Chinese, or Oriental medicine model is believed to address stagnant or blocked qi that causes disease - Wet Cupping is a technique that combines a small incision with bloodletting to remove blood and associated toxins.

In contrast, Western-based Cupping (Dry Cupping) uses plastic, silicone, or glass cups with a vacuum seal to influence myofascial tissue physiology.  Unlike the compressive forces that are typically applied during other forms of manual therapy, negative pressure within the cup visibly lifts the skin away from the body. 

The moment a cup is placed upon the skin an amazing exchange begins to unfold - the negative pressure inside the cup forces almost every molecule, cell, and tissue into a movement towards the source - the suction cup on top of the skin. When the pressure is released from the cup at the end of a treatment, the skin and each physical part and particle directly under the cup returns to their original state. As a direct result of this forced activity, heat is also generated which in turn accelerates the metabolic rate, triggering the chain of activity and communication between the cells and tissues.

When should Cupping NOT be used on my horse?

We always recommend that if there are specific conditions that you are looking to treat, that you always first consult with your veterinarian.  If your veterinarian has any questions or concerns about the use of Cupping Therapy for your horse, please let us know so that we can discuss with them the benefits of the treatment. This treatment is not to replace the medical care provided by your veterinarian.

As with Cupping Therapy for humans, there are some situations and conditions where Cupping would not be recommended, including:

  • An open wound

  • Fresh injury with extreme inflammation

  • Surgery undertaken within the previous 4-6 weeks

  • Cancer or in current treatment for Cancer

  • Organ failure

  • Acute infection

Have a specific question, feedback or a special request?

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