Cupping Massage Benefits for Shoulder Pain

Last Updated on April 9, 2022 by Ellen Christian

Have you ever heard of cupping before? After injuring my rotator cuff, I wanted to share a few cupping massage benefits with you in case you’re not familiar with this type of therapy. 

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Cupping Massage Benefits for Shoulder Pain and Stiffness

Cupping Massage Benefits

So, a few months ago, I managed to overwork and injure my rotator cuff. I’ve never had a lot of upper arm strength. And, evidently sitting at a desk typing for 12 hours a day doesn’t really develop upper body strength either. After, being in pain almost constantly, when heat stopped helping, I visited my primary physician for a diagnosis. After my appointment, I was referred to a physical therapist for therapy.

As part of my therapy, my physical therapist started using cupping on my shoulder. Since I had never heard of cupping before, the first thing I asked about was cupping massage benefits and risks. I wanted to share what I learned and my experience in case anyone else was considering it.

You might remember that Michael Phelps (the Olympic swimmer) has used cupping as part of his recovery therapy. It’s something that his personal trainer uses with him.

a cupping set on a therapy table

What is cupping?

Cupping is a Chinese form of alternative therapy where suction is used on your tight muscles to increase circulation. Increased circulation can help with pain and help loosen muscles. It should be done by a qualified therapist just like any other form of physical therapy. 

So, there are also other forms of cupping that I’ve seen discussed that I have never tried. I can’t speak to the effectiveness of wet cupping or fire cupping. Wet cupping involves puncturing the skin prior to cupping. And, fire cupping is when a flammable substance is placed under the cups during therapy. Again, these are not the type of cupping that I am discussing when I talk about cupping massage benefits.

Is cupping safe?

Each person has different needs so this is a question you should bring up with your doctor. Standard dry cupping is generally considered to be safe provided you have no underlying health issues. It can leave behind bruising around the area where the cups are applied. I have never experienced any problems after my cupping sessions. And, the cupping massage benefits outweighed the risks in my case. But, please talk to your physician to see if it’s something they recommend for you.

Cupping Massage Benefits for Shoulder Pain and Stiffness #DryCupping #Cupping #AlternativeMedicine #PhysicalTherapy #PainManagement

Does cupping really work?

For me, yes, I experience less soreness in my shoulders after my cupping sessions. But, cupping is an alternative therapy so you’re going to have to decide this yourself after speaking to your doctor. After speaking to my doctor, I wanted to see what cupping massage benefits I’d experience and if it would help my shoulder pain.

While the improvement doesn’t last for more than a few days, it is definitely worth it for me to have a few days with less pain. Since I only see my physical therapist once a week, I can’t say how effective it would be for more frequent cupping.

a woman having dry cupping done on her shoulder

Does cupping hurt?

Traditional dry cupping did not hurt when I had it done. The physical therapist applied the cups to my shoulder and tugged gently to loosen my muscles. It felt similar to having a massage done. There was no pain involved in dry cupping at my physical therapist’s office. And, there were definitely cupping massage benefits after having this technique done.

Cupping Massage Benefits for Shoulder Pain

I had some minor red rings on my shoulder when I got home. But, I experienced no bruising and no irritation at all from dry cupping. And, the rings were gone the next day. I’ve had cupping done three times now with no pain and no ill effects.

I’ve mentioned it to my husband to speak to his doctor about the cupping massage benefits for his lower back pain.

red and black cupping sets

Can I get cupping massage benefits at home?

I would not feel comfortable using cupping on myself or having someone that was not trained to use it on me. My physical therapist has been using it for several years. And, I feel comfortable having her do this in her office. This set is similar to the one my therapist uses.

So, if you’re curious about cupping, check out this article and speak to your doctor or health practitioner to see if it’s right for you. Or, if you’re currently going to physical therapy, you can ask them if they’re trained in this technique.

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2 thoughts on “Cupping Massage Benefits for Shoulder Pain”

  1. I will have to find my gift certificate I won for a free cupping session, at a reputable place just down the street from me. It is good for a year and I wanted to wait until I had some pain to see if it works. Coincidentally I too have shoulder/upper back pain on my right side and have been working it out with trigger point therapy myself. I think I slept on it wrong and it has hurt for several weeks! I'm definitely curious about cupping and not sure what one session will do for me, but good to read your experience!

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