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Cupping 拔罐

Cupping is one of my favorite treatments to help tight neck and shoulders, benefit low back spasms, reduce pain from musculoskeletal injuries, reduce scar tissue formation, promote relaxation, and improve symptoms from the common cold [1, 2, 3, 4].


Considered part of Chinese medicine traditions, cupping is a soft tissue treatment that creates suction on the body with glass or plastic cups. This suction decompresses the myofascia which reduces adhesions, improves mobility and tissue health, and increases blood flow, fluid exchange and micro-circulation to slow healing muscles and ligaments. Cupping will often leave marks that commonly fade within two weeks [5]. One of the many benefits of getting cupping from a Traditional Chinese medical provider, is that they can use cupping marks can help diagnose and treat other underlying conditions.

Not only used by gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelp’s trainers in the 2016 Olympics, but many professional and collegiate sports teams like the LA Lakers, The Cleveland Browns,  and the University of Michigan employ it to improve performance and recovery [6]. Based on 5000 year old hieroglyphic evidence, cupping therapy was believed to be used in ancient Egypt. The Qin dynasty text, the Wu Shi Er Bing Fang, is the first known written evidence of cupping in China.  Cupping likely spread along silk road and is still practiced today from Eastern Europe to the Middle-East  to South East Asia [7].

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