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What Is Myofascial Cupping?

  September 07, 2019

By Michael Haught, LMT, Keystone Body Therapies

Myofascial Cupping has received a lot of publicity lately for its use in sports therapy. The public is starting to realize it’s more than energy work; it’s a legitimate form of clinical rehab. Online searches for “cupping therapists,” “what is myofascial cupping,” “benefits of cupping,” etc. have increased by 3200 percent since the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when multiple American athletes were seen with the obvious circular marks on their backs, shoulders, and chests. Hundreds of articles have also been written over the past few years stating the benefits of myofascial cupping, also known as myofascial decompression, as a result of America’s new found interest in this ancient craft.

Myofascial Cupping is a soft tissue therapy that encourages healing by creating a negative pressure, or suction, on the skin using plastic, glass, or silicone cups that pull underlying tissues, blood, and other fluids to the surface of the skin. It can be incorporated into many different modalities of bodywork or can be used as a standalone treatment. The use of cupping dates back as early as 3000 BC, and has been documented in writings from 1550 BC. It is also documented as being used in ancient civilizations from Egypt, Greece, throughout the Middle East and Asia, as well as by the early Eastern European Jewish community. As of 2012, the most popular use of cupping is in China, where it has been a formal modality used in hospitals since 1950.

Types of Cupping:
  • Flash Cupping—Most often used with silicone cups. Cups are applied and removed in quick succession in order to create a negative pressure effect without a reactive effect on the skin.
  • Dry/Static/Fixed Cupping—Cups are applied for anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes, depending on the issues involved and the desired results. There can be some movement of the cup (Dynamic Cupping) as long as it does not glide over the skin. This is the most commonly used method.
  • Wet Cupping—Also known as Hijama, and is only to be performed by trained medical personnel in a medical setting. The therapist will make a small incision in the skin, and applies the cup over the affected area. Blood is drawn out of the body by the vacuum, very similar to bloodletting.
  • Massage (Glide) Cupping—Cups are moved all over the affected area to combine the benefits of both massage and cupping.
Myofascial Decompression helps to treat musculoskeletal disorders, injuries, improving tissue health, and increasing mobility.

Benefits of Cupping include:
  • Promotes healing
  • Decreases edema
  • Decreases pain
  • Improves range of motion
  • Manipulates dermal/subdermal connective tissue
  • Increases digestive function
Cupping can cause a very obvious round blemish on the skin. Some studies and researchers have incorrectly called them bruises, but they are not. The marks you see after a cupping session are the result of histamine responses and petechial—a tiny purplish red spot on the skin caused by the release of a very small quantity of blood from a capillary. The redness created is part of the body’s healing process, and will usually subside within a few hours. Petechial can last for a couple of days up to two weeks. The suction draws this blood to the surface making it easier for the body to process and eliminate impurities and toxins.

If you would like to know more about how adding Myofascial Cupping to your Therapeutic Bodywork session, please call or stop in to one of our three valley locations in Chandler, Scottsdale, and Avondale. We can be reached in the office at 480-686-8647, or 480-656-0792, by email at, or online at

To gain further understanding of how massage therapy can be beneficial for pain and other health conditions, call to schedule your free consultation with one of the therapists at Keystone Body Therapies.
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September 07, 2019


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