Cupping is a form of treatment that is traditionally used in Chinese Medicine. It was recently popularized by Michael Phelps during the Summer 2016 Olympics when he had tennis ball-sized red circles on his back and shoulders. In the Olympics, the difference between gold and silver is usually milliseconds; with Michael Phelps he used any advantage he can to gain an edge, maximize his recovery, and perform at a very high level for the next race. We all know how well that turned out! Most recently, Steph Curry and LeBron James have been seen modeling these welt marks demonstrating its benefits in different kinds of sports.

Dry Cupping uses negative pressure to create a suction effect on the skin. It is usually left on the skin for 5-20 minutes and can leave a bruise mark. The more suction you apply, the higher chance of a darker bruise. These bruises usually go away within a week or less.


How does it work?

Massage is usually “compression” of your soft tissue (skin, muscle, and/or fascia) while cupping is more “decompression.” Why this creates pain relief is not yet fully understood. The theory is that the suction causes the superficial blood vessels to dilate and increase the blood flow in the area, which in turn causes a release of pain-relieving hormones. You have way more pain receptors the closer you are to the skin surface. Imagine getting a tiny papercut vs a deep cut from cutting potatoes. I can already picture the wincing from the thought of getting a papercut! Increasing blood flow to an area, increases its potential to heal which may then decrease muscle soreness and help in speeding up your recovery in time for the next training session.


What are the reported benefits?

Accelerated recovery

Pain relief

Decreased muscle soreness

Improved mobility and flexibility

Muscle relaxation

General relaxation


What are the side effects?

The main side effect of cupping is the bruise marks. Usually people won’t get cupped if they have a wedding or big event coming up, but otherwise the side effects are minimal

Other side effects may include pain, swelling, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating, nausea


Who is not eligible to get cupped?

People with: open wounds, decreased skin integrity, are on blood thinners, active infection, or cancer, etc


How can I get this service?

Unbroken Rehab and Athletics provides cupping as one of its recovery services. Schedule a free consultation now (hyperlink http://www.unbrokenrehab.com/book-online/) to see if cupping will benefit you in accelerated recovery and increased pain relief.


For the month of December only, if you Follow Unbroken Rehab on instagram (hyperlink: instagram.com/unbrokenrehab) AND Like Unbroken Rehab on facebook (hyperlink: facebook.com/unbrokenrehab) you will receive a voucher for a 50% discount on your first cupping session. Try it before the year ends!


Written by: Fred Sampang PT, DPT