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.


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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