All You Need To Know About Cupping Massage Therapy

When big celebrity names like Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by Cupping Massage Therapy – there has to be something in it! While cupping is an ancient treatment, it is exceptionally popular nowadays and with superb results, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy all the benefits too.

Not only is it a genuine stress-buster, these celebs (and countless others) swear by its anti-aging and weight management capabilities. The fact is cupping helps to boost healing. It breaks down scar tissue and heals it naturally – the same process that’s necessary for collagen and elastane so it’s miracle cure for ailments such as lines, wrinkles, cellulite and stretch marks.

For athletes such as Olympic athlete Michael Phelps, it’s a therapy used to alleviate muscle strain and speed up injury recovery.

What is Cupping Massage Therapy?

Cupping is an ancient Chinese medicine that is over 5,000 years old although it has also been used for thousands of years in other parts of the world too. Years ago, cupping was practiced in the Far East as well as Eastern European countries.

It was also used in Egypt and North Africa and among the North American Indians. Today, it is a worldwide-practice by alternative medicine experts and massage therapist. The main benefits are immense well being and restoring health because of its documented effective healing properties.


Cupping Massage Therapy Benefits

  • Excellent for boosting the lymphatic system and draining toxins from the body
  • Good for reducing the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks
  • Recommended for sportsmen post-workout for muscular recovery
  • Beneficial for those suffering with common illnesses (cold, flu, general aches and pains)
  • Possibly boosts weight loss as it removes excess water
  • Relaxing and comforting so good for fatigue and anxiety sufferers
  • Reduces blood pressure as it boosts circulation
    Can help reduce headaches and migraines by working on pressure points to remove energy blockages in the body

How Does Cupping Massage Therapy Work?

It works by unblocking the channels of energy in the body, otherwise known as “Qi” to restore health and improve overall well being. Adopted by Western alternative medicine practitioners in recent years, cupping massage therapy is used to boost circulation and improve the flow of toxins and impurities out of the body’s waste system.

It is firmly believed that by removing these toxins, you are able to reduce pain and restore harmony in the body.

Cups are gently warmed before they’re placed on pressure points of the body (almost every area of the body can use a cup, including the face). Generally, cups are made out of glass and plastic and they create natural suction when applied to the skin. This acts as a vacuum by lifting skin and holding it there to help release any blockages.

Does cupping hurt?

No, cupping performed properly should never hurt. Each cupping action draws blood to the area and encourages better circulation.

Cupping marks – how long it takes to recover?

After each cup removal, there will be a ring mark (where the cup was placed). The darker the ring mark, the more toxins present. Depending on the intensity of ring color, cupping marks can last anything from 3 days to 3 weeks.

What Can Cupping Do?

When cupping is applied to massage, the massage therapist moves them upwards, downwards and across to dispel toxins. Lots of sportsmen enjoy cupping massage because it’s especially good for removing lactic acid from muscles so helps recovery and the lymphatic system to work to its optimum. It’s also a great form of massage when recovering from illness.

Some people swear that cupping works well for cellulite and stretch marks as it flushes out toxins so reduces dimpled skin, this study shows positive results in diminishing cellulite.

Additionally, it’s excellent for weight loss because it removes excess water from the body (but you must keep drinking to stay hydrated). There’s lots of evidence to show that cupping works as an excellent anti-aging treatment too, stimulating collagen and elastane. Cupping is also a very comforting massage but for any massage to really deliver excellent results, you’ll need a few treatments.

How to do Cupping Massage at Home

  • You might want to do this with a partner but it can still be done on your own
  • Choose a suitable cupping set (see our recommendations below)
  • Wash your cups using a mild detergent and warm water (or alcohol)
  • Have a shower and wash thoroughly
  • Remove body hair
  • Dry yourself
  • Make sure your room of choice is warm and comfortable
  • Check the assembly items are firmly intact (extension and valve for example)
  • Select the right size of cup for the body area (smaller cups are for smaller areas, larger cups are for larger areas etc.)
  • Use a light oil or skin cream onto the area (check the make of your cups, some are not suitable for oils)
  • Connect the extensions, cup and pump gun
  • Place the cup on the body and draw the gun handle to remove air from the cup
  • Remove the connector so the cup is left on the skin using the vacuum pressure
  • Move the cup slowly left and right but don’t lose the pressure, the skin should be held taut
  • Place another cup (or cup individually, this is purely down to preference)
  • After some time has elapsed (again, your preference), release the pressure by pulling on the valve
  • Never pull the cup away from the skin without using the valve as you could damage your skin
  • You might have a red ring mark which is normal

Cupping For Weight Loss

Cupping in weight lost helps to improve the metabolism and ruptures stubborn fat. The fat cells are then flushed out of the system via lymphatic drainage so it aids weight-loss. However, it cannot be used as a weight loss treatment on its own.

It’s important to eat well and exercise regularly for best results. What cupping does do is eliminate water retention, and stimulate digestive system, removing any blockages.

9 Of The Best Warming Massage Oils 

Cupping For Belly Fat

Cupping can work on belly fat. Taking the same principles as weight loss (stimulating the digestive system and boosting lymphatic drainage), cupping ruptures fat cells so they’re removed through the body’s elimination of toxins. For belly fat, it’s best to concentrate on the areas of concern.

However, it’s vital that you also follow a good eating program and exercise regularly for best results.

Cupping For Stretch Marks

Cupping is excellent for removing stretch marks because the vacuuming process stimulates healing, promoting better circulation too. Blood flow increases in the area of concern and collagen and elastane forms faster than without the treatment.

The collagen and elastane improve the flexibility and firmness of the skin so stretch marks appear to fade away. You will need a few treatments to see any results.

Cupping For the Face

As an anti-aging treatment it delivers impressive results as it stimulates the blood circulation so plumping and firming the skin. It also encourages the growth of collagen and elastane so it helps to reduce the signs of aging by minimizing wrinkles and fine lines.

Be aware that because of the red marks that cupping causes, you might want to use the treatment when your social diary is quieter. There is some downtime.

Cupping Therapy for Athletes

cupping massage therapy athletes

Many athletes use cupping as a therapy to promote faster recovery, reduce injury and boost healing. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles during a workout and cupping helps to disperse the acid so they recover better. Muscles stay strong and flexible because cupping banishes aches, stiffness and discomfort. It also helps athletes to relax post-workout so the body doesn’t hold tension.

Is Cupping Safe?

Yes, cupping is safe as long as instructions are carefully followed. If you have a cupping treatment at a massage therapist, check their credentials first. Note the following considerations for maximum safety:

  • Sometimes blisters occur where the cup has been placed on the skin. Take care with blisters and disinfect using alcohol
  • Never use cupping for longer than fifteen minutes per session or more than twice daily
  • If you use cupping every day, factor in two days rest and don’t cup for longer than ten consecutive days
  • If you experience dizziness or fainting stop cupping immediately

Caring for your Cupping Set

  • Keep your cups stored away from heat or sunlight
  • If your set contains magnetic points, keep them away from other magnetic items (for example, watches and electrical equipment)
  • Wash after use and dry thoroughly

Who Shouldn’t Use Cupping?

Never use cupping on inflamed, ulcerated, swollen or broken skin. If you have a serious illness, or you are pregnant, it’s best to discuss the treatment with a healthcare professional beforehand.

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Cupping Sets Reviewed

We review the top three cupping sets currently available so you make an informed choice:

Lure Cupping Therapy Massage Set

Lure Cupping Therapy Massage Set

Lure is a company created by a husband and wife team from Eastern Europe who are dedicated to health and well being. With years of experience in the art of cupping, they have used the system since childhood to boost immunity and reduce symptoms of common illnesses.

This cupping set consists of silicone vacuum suction cups that are especially designed to help with muscular and joint pain. In a bright blue color, the one downside is that you only receive four cups which is limiting. Retailing at approximately $27 (depending on where you purchase it from) it’s a good starter pack if you’re new to the art of cupping massage.

One of the main benefits of the Lure pack is that it is made without PVC, plastic, phthalates or fillers so it’s exceptionally kind to skin. Even the most sensitive of skins shouldn’t react to these cups. Unlike other cupping systems available, this one leaves minimal marks on the skin because of the materials used.

The manufacturer promises a very deep tissue massage that is kind and comforting yet extremely effective. It’s comparable to half an hour of deep tissue massage in just five minutes of cupping time so you get a much more in-depth experience.

This set is particularly recommended for toning up the body, firming the skin, aiding weight loss. It’s also suitable for banishing the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks.

The set was one of the very first to appear on the markets for DIY cupping so feel assured that the manufacturer understands what’s required to deliver a high-quality product. Added benefits include pliable cups so you control the suction (useful if you’re a beginner) and you can download the cupping book (in a link that is sent to you upon ordering). The booklet has many useful tips on cupping including best practices.

The system is so well thought out, that it’s also suitable for athlete use, professional cuppers or semi-professionals.

Lura is recommended for:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sinus congestion
  • Muscular pain
  • Joint pain
  • Improving mobility
  • Trigger points
  • Tension relief
  • Cellulite
  • Body Shaping
  • Anti-aging

Kanghzu 12 Cup Bio-magnetic Chinese Therapy Set

Kanghzu 12 Cup Bio-magnetic Chinese Therapy Set

This is another impressive cupping therapy set by Kanghzu that retails at approximately $14.75 (depending on where you buy it from). The pack consists of twelve different size cups so you can use on smaller or larger parts of the body. They are easy to use with special pressure release valves and you control the amount of suction you want.

Additionally, they come with removable bio-magnetic points to really target specific areas when you want to.

You’ll find the set is made out of strong, durable, safe materials and will give you years of use. The materials are high-grade and feature a pistol grip suction pump gun which makes these an excellent choice for beginners. The cups are lightweight and resistant to breakage. The set also comes with a user manual with instructions.

Use these cups to create vacuum areas on the body by manually removing air with the suction gun mechanism. The suction produces a negative air pressure vacuum that is held inside each cup and this works on relaxing muscles and tissue.

Be aware that you will usually have a red ring left on the skin following use but it will disappear over a period of a few days to a couple of weeks.

In addition to the suction cups, this system comprises magnetic needles that target the pressure points to balance energy. You can easily remove them from the cups (and put them back in) if you don’t want to use them but they’re recommended to restore harmony in the body.

Using the Kangzhu Cupping Set

  • Before use, lift the piston on each cup to maintain smooth airflow
  • Place the small end of the tube connector into the green rubber adapter
  • Place the large end of the same tube into the green rubber adapter
  • Place this onto a cup body
  • Pull the trigger of the vacuum gun, taking care to watch the flow of air
  • Place the cup onto the treatment area of choice
  • Pull the pump two or three times to reach the pressure required
  • The suction should pull inwards, raising the skin
  • Then move the cup slowly to the left and right
  • Gently press down the cup’s piston (this stops air from leaking)
  • Remove the cup by lifting the piston when you’re ready
  • Wash the cups using water and a mild detergent or alcohol.


  • Relaxes tight muscles
  • Aches and pains (particularly back and neck)
  • Reducing symptoms of headaches and migraines
  • Boosts feelings of well being
  • Good for deep tissue massage
  • Ideal for anti-cellulite treatment
  • Excellent for reducing the appearance of cellulite
  • Recommended for improved lymphatic drainage
  • Ideal for anti-aging treatments


Acuzone Cupping Set

Acuzone Cupping Set

This cupping set contains a good amount of cups (nineteen in total) along with ten acupressure pointers. It retails at approximately $47 (depending on where you buy it from) and is an excellent set for those who are already familiar with the art of cupping massage. The set is delivered in a well-organized carry case that is sturdy and strong.

Made out of plastic, these cups are easy to keep clean; they can be sterilized by using boiling water. The cups are also shockproof and heatproof so they should last a very long time! These cups are exceptionally easy to apply and safe to use. They also simplify the process so if you’re new to cupping, these are fail safe.

The cups come in varying diameters which means you can use them on almost all areas of the body. There’s also a useful carrying case so you can transport them without risking damage and they come with a hand pump and extension tube.

A big advantage to the Acuzone set is that they were used in the 2016 Olympics by professional athletes.

It’s important to always clean the skin before using cups and remove any body hair (in case it gets trapped during use). Excessive body hair can also impact suction as it weakens it. Never press down too firmly or you might break the extension tube and don’t use oil because it will damage the material of the cups.

Another tip is to make sure the cup is level on your skin for best results. While there are lots of different sizes in this set, none are small enough for facial use so avoid these if you want cupping for anti-aging facial treatments.


  • Reduces muscular soreness
  • Alleviates stiffness
  • Calms inflammation and aches
  • Can help diminish stretch marks and cellulite
  • Aids lymphatic drainage
  • Unblocks channels of energy in the body
  • Helps to reduce headache and migraines
  • Encourages weight loss (but this is mainly water so stay hydrated)
  • Promotes feelings of relaxation

Cupping massage therapy, DIY cupping, cupping cellulite


Carmen is an entrepreneur and content marketer. In a former life, as a corporate business executive, she relied on yoga, reflexology and other alternative practices to fight stress, anxiety and find balance. She’s on a mission to build healthy habits for a balanced, healthy life, connecting body, mind and spirit.