Cupping induced spotted muscular backs are all the rage thanks to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Specifically, Michael Phelps. Twenty-three gold medals and five-time Olympic competitor, he knows a thing or two about recovery and how to keep his body in an optimal state for performance. In addition, many celebs, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Anniston, have been spied wearing sexy backless dresses with the marks of a recent cupping treatment. They too promote this ancient healing practice.

Athletes Love Cupping

rings-1287753_640Cupping, a well known practice among massage therapists and acupuncturists, has been used since ancient times. This widely used therapy can treat a multitude of ailments. Thanks to the telltale spots on Olympic athletes, the media mainstream is buzzing with enthusiasm. We like to think of the tennis ball sized round circular marks as a badge of top notch self care.

While many athletes love cupping, there are many compelling reasons to consider it beyond the competitive arena. Yes, this ancient therapy helps athletes recover faster, alleviates pain, and promotes flexibility. However, the rest of us can benefit from the power of cupping so that we may better perform in our everyday lives as well.

How It Works

Cupping essentially creates a suction cup, or vacuum. The suction pulls the skin back and loosens muscles and tendons. This increases flexibility while alleviating inflammation. Impurities, toxins, and dead blood cells are then pulled to the surface of the skin. The popular circular dark purple marks are created in this process.

Add increased blood circulation and oxygenation to the list of benefits! In this process, cells are given a fresh infusion of blood that is rich with oxygen and nutrients. Detoxification, blood flow, and lymphatic circulation are triggered which reduce swelling, inflammation, and congestion.

Lower back, joint, and muscle pain are often significantly reduced with cupping therapy. Some say that cupping is the deepest form of deep tissue therapy, penetrating 4 inches deep into the fascia. Due to increased blood flow and release, the pain relief is often immediate.

Top 3 Lesser Known Benefits

While many of our clients at Zama add cupping to their massage sessions for reasons of pain relief, we would like to highlight some our favorite lesser known benefits.


Cupping wakes up the body and makes it feel invigorated and energized. At the same time, it creates an ideal environment for healing the body and mind by relaxing and sedating the nervous system. These uplifting and relaxing benefits for the mind and body can help combat depression. The causes for depression are complex and vary from person to person. However, the benefits of this therapy support the body in a way that helps alleviate depressive symptoms. Improved digestion, lymph drainage, decreased stress, and detoxification promote healthy thoughts and emotions.


The relaxing effect of cupping helps to support healthy digestion. Add in abdominal massage via cupping and the intestines respond favorably.  Massage Magazine reports "with regular abdominal cupping, there is an increase in digestive secretions that enhances peristaltic movement. Cupping will improve appetite, digestion, bile flow and metabolism, aid in the treatment of distension and acidity, help with conception, relieve constipation and promote regularity of the bowels." Common areas for digestive cupping are around the navel, over the bladder, around the kidneys, and over the stomach.


Cupping therapy strengthens the immune system. It promotes detox, circulation, and lymphatic flow. Better yet, it will help clear away phlegm and congestion caused by flus and colds, which will speed up recovery. Cupping can help alleviate respiratory symptoms caused by allergies and asthma as well.MagCuppingBack7

At Zama you can add this unique treatment to any massage. Our blend of massage cupping and magnetic acupressure cupping will make the results of your 30, 60, 90 or 120 minute massage last much much longer.


Every Weekend Warrior Deserves The Royal Treatment

Just in time for the summer road races, we've combined our two most popular spa services into one package to help all of our Weekend Warriors find the relief they so desperately need. August is like the 50 yard line of summer and we know that means you’ve been hitting the pavement hard in anticipation of your big event. Whether it's running those long distance foot races, cross-fit training, scaling steep mountains, or just working up a sweat in the garden, we created this special for the semi-pro athlete in all of us!

TreatmentLet us take care of you from head to toe with our 75 minute Weekend Warrior Massage and 60 minute Deep Blue Deluxe Pedicure. A perennial spa favorite, the Weekend Warrior blends the best of our Sports Therapy and Deep Tissue massages, utilizing steamed heat-packs for any achy soreness and cold-packs for any acute pain. While hydrotherapy works its magic, Deep Blue Rub is applied to tender areas. As you sit back and ease into your Deep Blue pedi, your aches and pains will disappear with a therapeutic foot and calf massage, again enhanced by our cooling Deep Blue Rub. Warm eco-fin booties heat your muscles and wipe away any remaining pain. Finally, your nails are restored to their pre-race luster with one of our complimentary, 5-Free Deborah Lippmann nail polishes.

The Royal Treatment

75 minute Weekend Warrior Massage
60 minute Deep Blue Deluxe Pedicure

All for just $150!

*Includes chilled cranberry honey kombucha from Oregonic Tonic

Call 503-281-0278 to book your appointment or Book Online now.

Massage for Athletes

Whether you're gearing up for the Shamrock 5K or training for the Portland Marathon, keeping your mind and body in prime condition is essential to any athlete. Proper relaxation and release of lactic acids not only helps you recover faster from your last race, it can also help you perform at your optimum level in the next. For years now, we've been helping local area athletes prepare for and recuperate from the rigors of athletic competition. The following is a short list we've observed.

Maintenance of Muscles

Massage can help improve muscle recovery, which leads to more efficient training. With increased circulation, tissues are better able to receive nutrients and other substances that are vital for optimal body functioning. Massage also helps decrease the swelling of muscles and relaxes and stretches sore muscles.

Massage Pre-Competition

Pre-competition massage can be a tool for increasing or decreasing the stimulation level of nerve cells, ligaments, and joints, which helps in keeping them loose and flexible. This can help to prevent excessive micro-trauma. Massage before a competition focuses on stretching and warming up the tendons and ligaments of the legs and arms. These connective tissues do not have their own blood supply; therefore it takes longer to warm them up. Massage improves the bodies' circulation; hence improved blood flow to the tendons and ligaments.

Massage Post-Competition

massage for athletesA massage after an athletic event is very relaxing for the body and the mind. Massages performed after a workout or competition help to relieve the effects of muscular fatigue. Massage helps the body by relieving soreness and stiffness and it allows the muscles to maintain flexibility and looseness. The joints, tendons and ligaments are also helped in the same manner. Research suggests that post-workout or post-competition massage can speed up recovery time by as much as two times faster than rest alone. When given a massage, the body is able to transport nutrients and oxygen better to the muscles because of the enhanced blood flow.

Massage And Injuries

Massage has been shown to accelerate the recovery of injured muscles. Massage also allows for a greater range of motion of the injured muscle. However, massage therapy for muscle damage should not be performed immediately after the injury. Massage therapy should not be given any sooner than 48 hours after an injury occurs to be sure the swelling and pain have ceased before receiving the massage therapy. For a quicker recovery, the RICE method should be utilized. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) Read more about RICE method here. Follow this up with massage therapy and this will put you on the road to recovery!

Massage Speeds Recovery Time

Therapeutic massage helps the body recover from the stresses of strenuous exercise and facilitates the rebuilding phase of conditioning. The physiological benefits of massage includes improved blood and lymph circulation, muscle relaxation and general relaxation. These in turn lead to removal of waste products and better cell nutrition, normalization and greater elasticity of tissues, deactivation of trigger points and faster healing of injuries. It all adds up to relief from soreness and stiffness, better flexibility and less potential for future injury.

Give us a call at 503-281-0278 to speak with one of our wellness consultants if you have any questions about whether or not massage should be a part of your workout and recovery routine or book online here.

Zama Massage Therapeutic Spa

2149 NE Broadway Street
PortlandOregon 97232
Off street parking in back (compact cars only).

Phone: 503.281.0278


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