Have you ever seen pictures of Michael Phelps the Olympic swimmer and wonder what the

octopus-looking marks were on his back? Those marks were from massage cupping. Although massage cupping has soared in popularity recently, the practice has been around for thousands of years. It’s a great way to relieve pain and musculoskeletal injuries. But before you try massage cupping, here’s what you should know: 

1. Massage Cupping Increases Blood Flow

Massage Cupping works by applying suction and negative pressure via cups. These cups soften tight muscles and loosen adhesions. This release of adhesions allows fluids and blood to enter body tissues, drains excess fluids and toxins by opening lymphatic pathways, and dispels stagnation. 


2. Massage Cupping Comes With a Variety of Benefits

Some of the benefits associated with massage cupping include:

  • Reducing the appearance of scars
  • Releasing adhesions 
  • Bringing nutrients and oxygen to the muscles
  • Reducing swelling
  • Removing toxins


3. Cupping Can Help Manage Certain Conditions

Some conditions respond well to massage cupping. If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, you can benefit from massage cupping:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatica, TMJ, arthritis, sluggish colon, IBS, scars, and adhesions.
  • C-sections
  • Parkinson’s
  • Lymphedema
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sports injuries
  • Spider veins and varicosities
  • COPD


4. There are Different Types of Massage Cupping

There are different types of massage cupping that come with different purposes and benefits.


Fire/flash cupping – uses matches to remove air from the cup. Massage therapists do not

use this type of cupping


Wet/bleeding cupping – the cup slices skin with inserted scalpel/razor. Massage

therapists do not use this type of cupping


Acupuncture cupping – acupuncturists can perform all varieties of cupping


Manual cupping – uses a manual gun to remove the air from the cups


Vacuum cupping – an electric-powered cupping set that can be used to keep the cups

stationary or while moving. The powered machine allows for more continuity of suction. 


Magnetic cupping – uses negative and positive magnets to help reduce inflammation


5. There Are Instances When You Shouldn’t Do Massage Cupping

If a condition is contraindicated for massage, then it is generally contraindicated for massage cupping. Some examples would be:

  • Cardiac failure
  • Ascites due to the liver not functioning
  • Severe pitting edema
  • Hemorrhagic diseases
  • Leukemia

In addition, the therapist considers the health of the client and takes note of any cautionary areas.


6. Massage Cupping DOES NOT Get Rid of Fat

False advertising claims that massage cupping gets rid of fat. Absolutely not! If that were the case, there would be waiting lines outside of massage therapists’ offices. However, massage cupping does release restricted fascia. Once the fascia is released, the dimpling seen with fat cells may be less noticeable. But the fat cells are still there.


7. Massage Cupping Can be Done All Over the Body

Massage cupping can be done almost anywhere on the body. The therapist needs to be aware of endangerment sites and adjust to the circumstances of each individual’s health needs. However, cupping is never used over the belly button (umbilicus) because of the risk of developing a hernia.


8. There is a Difference Between Cupping and Massage Cupping

Cupping is performed by acupuncturists and doctors and can be left on for longer periods of time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, stationary cups can be left on for up to 15 minutes.

Massage therapists are limited to the amount of time that the cups can be left in one place.


9. Massage Cupping Can Have Side Effects

As with any type of massage, some side effects may occur. Some of the most common side effects are:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Tenderness
  • Redness and itching due to increased vasodilation
  • Decreased blood pressure


Try Massage Cupping Today!

Ready to give massage cupping a try? Let the experienced licensed massage therapists at Spotswood Trail do it for you. Give us a call at (540) 820-3097 to schedule your appointment!