Used mainly as a type of deep tissue massage, cupping addresses issues involving blood flow, pain, muscle tension, and inflammation. It encourages healing, relaxation, and overall well-being. Cupping can be used to manage migraines and other types of headaches. It can even be integrated in the treatment of respiratory and digestive conditions including the common cold, asthma, constipation and weak digestion. 

Before the cup is placed on the surface of the skin, either a flame, used in fire cupping, or a vacuum pump, used in suction cupping, is used to create a vacuum that draws the skin, muscles and fascia into the cup. This draws blood to the area of pain or dysfunction, leaving circular marks which is the desired outcome. Cupping marks indicate the dispersion of stagnated blood and other body fluids, thus improving circulation. 

The cups are left in place for 10 to 15 minutes. Although cupping is a form of treatment in itself, it optimizes recovery when used in conjunction with acupuncture. The cupping marks themselves may last from a couple days to about a week. 

“I have done it before pretty much every meet I go to."


The cupping craze began in 2016 when Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was spotted covered in purple marks from cupping therapy. Shortly after, the same marks appeared on Lebron James. Since then cupping has become a common practice amongst athletes for it’s ability to remove tension, promote circulation and reduce pain, allowing the body to recover quickly. This makes cupping therapy ideal for athletes and active individuals.

Cupping therapy is an effective remedy for pain management. It’s primary mechanisms, vacuum and negative pressure, allow the cups to penetrate through layers of soft tissue to target specific muscles, joints and fascial networks. Pulling these tissues away from the body greatly reduces tension and pain.

Cupping therapy approaches mental health in a similar fashion as traditional massage, targeting tension within the body caused by everyday stressors and anxieties. It also helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and combating anxiety. 

Cupping, much like IASTM or percussion therapy, is also integrated into allergy treatment for symptom relief. Cupping can treat muscular soreness and general inflammation and also benefits organ and circulatory systems.