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Myofascial Cupping: Unveiling the Technique

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Myofascial cupping, a technique aimed at addressing fascial restrictions and muscle-related issues, offers various benefits for pain relief and enhanced movement. Here's a detailed explanation of this technique:

What is Myofascial Cupping?

Myofascial cupping focuses on treating the fascia surrounding muscles. Fascial restrictions due to inactivity, injury, disease, or inflammation can lead to pain and limited range of motion. This technique aims to alleviate such issues (Warren et al. 2020).

Application of Myofascial Cupping:

1. Preparation: Your therapist identifies treatment areas and applies balm, cream, or oil to the skin.

2. Cup Selection: Cup size varies based on the area treated, with larger cups for the back and smaller ones for the arms.

3. Cup Attachment: A cup is attached to a hand-operated suction pump and placed on the skin. Negative pressure is created through suction.

4. Techniques: Cups can be moved over the skin, dragging or resisting in areas needing attention.

5. Pressure Consideration: Proper pressure is crucial; too little pressure may render the therapy ineffective, while excessive pressure can cause discomfort.

6. Ischemia Effect: The cups cause ischemia, limiting blood flow. After removal, blood flow rapidly increases (Wang et al. 2020).

Benefits of Myofascial Cupping:

- Enhanced Blood Circulation: Negative pressure increases blood flow, aiding tissue healing.

- Mechanoreceptor Stimulation: Stimulates local mechanoreceptors, influencing pain perception.

- Endorphin Release: Cupping triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers.

- Soft Tissue Alteration: Alters gel-like tissues, promoting softening of fascia (Saeidi, Yavari & Fateh 2021).

- Lymphatic Drainage: Assists in detoxification through lymphatic drainage.

- Reduced Inflammation: Decreases inflammation and muscle stiffness (Warren et al. 2020).

Studies and Findings:

- Saeidi, Yavari & Fateh (2021): Cupping's effectiveness for myofascial pain was observed, showing greater improvement in pain intensity and disability compared to exercise.

- Warren et al. (2020): Cupping was superior to self-myofascial release in improving hamstring flexibility and perceived strength.

- Wang et al. (2020): Varying pressures and durations influenced blood flow, emphasising the role of intention in cupping's efficacy.


Applying myofascial cupping to the upper trapezius muscle.

Cupping may not be suitable for already pain-free or full-range areas. Inclusion criteria of studies should be considered when evaluating cupping's effectiveness. It's important to approach cupping with a critical mindset, considering pressure, duration, and intention for optimal outcomes.

Incorporating myofascial cupping as part of your treatment plan can address pain, enhance blood circulation, and contribute to improved overall musculoskeletal health.


Dalton, EL & Velasquez, BJ 2017, ‘Cupping therapy: An alternative method of treating pain’, Public Health Open J, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 59-63.

Saeidi, M, Yavari, H & Fateh, HR 2021 ‘The Comparative Effects of Cupping Massage and Exercise Training in Patients with Trapezius Myofascial Syndrome on Pain, Disability and Fatigue. A Randomized Controlled Trial’ Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 584-590.

Wang, X, Zhang, X, Elliott, J, Liao, F, Tao, J & Jan, Y-K 2020, ‘Effect of Pressures and Durations of Cupping Therapy on Skin Blood Flow Responses’, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, vol. 8, pp. 1-7.

Warren, AJ, LaCross, Z, Volberding, JL, O’Brien, MS 2020, ‘Acute Outcomes of Myofascial Decompression (Cupping Therapy) Compared to Self-Myofascial Release on Hamstring Pathology After a Single Use’, The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 579-592.

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