By Elizabeth A Cinney

Cupping is the inverse of massage. Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull skin, tissue, and muscles upward.

Cupping involves placing glass jars on the skin and creating a vacuum by suctioning out the air. The tissue is pulled into the cup. Usually a tight sensation will be felt in the area of the cup and may be moved around or left in place. They may remain on your body briefly or for longer amounts of time. Some common areas to cup are the back, legs, shoulder cuffs, or other fleshy areas of the body.

Cupping causes SHA or stagnant QI to be dispersed from the body.  The skin will temporarily change to red or purple depending on the level of blockage. The skin discoloration will last a few days to a week.  Once the cupping marks have cleared, the procedure may be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.


Cupping targets soft tissue with pressure applied to pain points, injuries, and areas of swelling. This helps to increase blood flow and give the tissues important nutrients and oxygen. It helps release tissues deep within the body, reprogram nerve damage, relax tense muscles and ease stiffness that’s often associated with neck and back pain, shoulder injuries, migraines and rheumatism.


Poor circulation can lead to buildup of toxins inside of the body’s tissues. Cupping helps stagnation improve, while the blood rushing to the area that’s being treated carries away toxins. Along with those toxins, it helps to clear dead cells and other debris.

All of these elements are then expelled naturally, through the skin or lymphatic system.  Drinking plenty of water after a cupping session is supportive for flushing away those impurities and promoting better health.


Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism, which helps kick things into action to help heal illness and injury. Cupping therapy works much the same way by drawing blood to the affected area so that new blood vessels can be created. It helps to heal knots and adhesions, which is why so many athletes have been turning to this therapy. It helps their body to recover faster from intense workout sessions.

Always looking for methods to naturally improve health and performance, more athletes have turned to cupping. Tennis ace Andy Murray said he used cupping in conjunction with other treatments to relieve stiffness and to help address a back injury.  

You may have noticed a bunch of athletes at the Rio Olympics with large red circles all over their skin, including 19-time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps and American swimmer Natalie Coughlin.  

It seems to be working.  The gymnastics team captain, Chris Brooks, and American gymnast Alex Naddourr have also been seen with cupping marks.  

Referring to the practice, Naddour told USA Today, “That’s been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy. It’s been better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”  

The U.S. men’s gymnastics team finished second during the qualifying round at the 2016 Olympics, and swim team members Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian, who also uses cupping, managed to secure gold medals in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.


Elizabeth A Cinney offers clients the opportunity to relieve injuries through Acupressure and Cupping in Westlake Village, Ca office or at your home.  She offers clients a unique perspective with being an equestrian, horse owner, and 19 years’ experience providing Acupressure for people & horses.