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Cupping Therapy and Therapeutic Massage

Cupping therapy is a healthcare technique that very well-known in Vietnam, China, and in some areas of the Middle East. It can be found in the historical record as having been used in Northern Europe, Russia, Africa, Japan, Korea, North America, Egypt and Greece. At present, this therapy is offered all over the world including in Europe, Asia, Australia, and throughout America.

While a practitioner who is trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may use cupping therapy alone or in conjunction with other elements of TCM for a wide range of ailments, this article is more concerned with the use of cupping therapy in conjunction with therapeutic massage to help with muscle and joint pain.

Dr. Ahmed Younis of the British Cupping Society, defines it thus, “Cupping Therapy is an ancient medical treatment that relies upon creating a local suction to mobilize blood flow in order to promote healing.”

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the belief is that cupping therapy can improve the flow of ‘qi’ or energy throughout the body, and it is that energy which heals the body. Cupping therapy practitioners in the west are more concerned with how the treatment influences blood circulation and the helpful effects of that improved blood flow on muscles and joints.

Since cupping therapy increases the flow of blood to the areas being treated, it is important to understand why improved blood circulation is so important to our health. Blood flowing throughout the body brings oxygen and nutrients and removes waste, and (white blood cells) protect us from infectious disease.

There have been many studies and some Randomized Controlled Trials of cupping therapy, and here are just a few of the results.

Effects of Traditional Cupping Therapy in Patients With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial

“The treatment was safe and well tolerated. We conclude that cupping therapy may be effective in relieving the pain and other symptoms related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” Publication: The Journal of Pain, Publisher: Elsevier, Date: June 2009 A Pilot Study Analyzing the Effects of Chinese Cupping as an Adjunct Treatment for Patients with Subacute Low Back Pain on Relieving Pain, Improving Range of Motion, and Improving Function

“Conclusions: Chinese cupping may be a low-risk, therapeutic treatment for the prompt reduction of symptoms associated with subacute and chronic low back pain. Cupping may allow patients to progress to functional movement training in a timely manner by promptly reducing pain and muscle tenderness and improving range of motion.”

Citation: Markowski Alycia, Sanford Susan, Pikowski Jenna, Fauvell Daniel, Cimino David, and Caplan Scott. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. February 2014, 20(2): 113-117.

Dry Cupping Therapy Decreases Cellulite in Women: A pilot study July 2015

“The grade of cellulite was assessed before and three days following dry moving cupping therapy. In the present study, the mean grade of cellulite was decreased following dry moving cupping therapy comparing with before.” Citation:

Management of Knee Osteoarthritis With Cupping Therapy

“The study proved cupping to be a good analgesic and anti-inflammatory with efficacy better than acetaminophen. Thus, cupping can be recommended for other painful conditions besides being a line of treatment for osteoarthritis.” Citation: J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2013 Oct-Dec; 4(4): 217–223. doi: 10.4103/2231-4040.121417

Here at Indulgence Therapeutic Massage we offer cupping therapy using either, silicone cups or using a suction pump style depending upon the practitioner. In either case, there is a suction created which draws blood to the surface of the skin and which may leave circular red marks on the skin, which will fade after a few days. It is worth considering the timing of your treatment if you do not wish to show off the cupping marks in public.

Cupping therapy has recently gained a great deal of attention because of the number of professional athletes, Olympians, and celebrities who are using this therapy. For example actress/entrepreneur, Gwyneth Paltrow; Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps; tennis pro, Andy Murray; and performer, Lady Gaga. It has also been widely reported (Maclean’s Magazine, The National Post, The Toronto Star), that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has received cupping therapy.

I believe that what is more relevant is the long history of the health benefits of cupping therapy, as documented from as far back, as the time of Hippocrates. Cupping therapy may be effective for you and Indulgence Therapeutic Massage is pleased to be able to offer it as an adjunct to massage therapy treatments.


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