Cupping Therapy for Sports Injuries!

As more and more active people are looking for conservative care solutions other than being told to simply rest or ice their pains and injuries, many different new techniques for helping people rehabilitate their injuries have came about. In some cases, these techniques are not new but have just came more into the public light recently. This is the case for cupping therapy or sports cupping.

In the 2016 Summer Olympics games, Michael Phelps and other team USA swimmers were seen with these little circular bruise marks on their backs and shoulders. This caught the public eye and ever since then, cupping therapy has been fairly mainstream for sports injuries, muscle strains, plantar fasciitis, herniated discs, and more! Athletes playing baseball, basketball, soccer, football, swimming, and more have encouraged the use of cupping because of the benefit they have seen in their own body.


Michael Phelps after cupping therapy
Michael Phelps with bruises from cupping therapy at the 2016 Olympics where he won 5 gold medals.

In the case of the 2016 summer Olympians, cupping therapy was used to increase mobility, decrease muscle tightness, and increase blood flow to specific areas to facilitate healing and recovery! In this article we will break down the research on what sports cupping is good for and when it is appropriate to be used as a therapy to help rehabilitate your pains and injuries!

Cupping Therapy in Saint Johns, Florida

At St. Johns Chiropractic & Performance, we help active adults & youth athletes get out of pain quickly & rehabilitate their injuries so they can get back to doing what they love without limitation. Dr. Grant Speer is an expert with sports injuries and has an extensive background in diagnosing aches & pains, finding the root cause of the injury, pain reduction techniques, and rehabilitating the injured tissue to prevent further injury.

We have helped many people in Saint Johns, Florida with joint, muscle, and soft tissue pain and have found lasting solutions to help them stay active without pain!

Why Use Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is done by placing a small plastic or rubber cup over tight tissue (muscle tendon, fascia, ligament, joint) and using a small device to suction the air out of the cup which pulls the skin off of the tissue. This is referred to as “dry” cupping as “wet” cupping is a completely different therapy.

This can be done for a few seconds or as long as 15 minutes at times depending on what the goal of treatment is. Cupping is mostly used in a static position, but there are other variations of cupping that involve moving your body with the cups on or keeping your body still and sliding the cups around on your skin using a lubricant.

Cupping is therapeutic because it has been found to enhance circulation, blood flow, and local oxygen uptake around the targeted tissues. It has been shown to decrease muscle pain and improve the function of the local joints and muscles (mobility and strength). (1) cupping therapy has also been shown to speed up or accelerate recovery from muscle soreness after sporting events or exercise. (1)

Dr. Grant Speer performed Cupping therapy on this athlete's leg

One of the biggest benefits of cupping therapy is that it has been found to reduce  and eliminate dysfunction from myofascial trigger points (TrPs) which are taut, tight sections of a muscle or soft tissue and causes restricted range of motion (movement) and the perception of tightness. (1)

Many different research studies have shown that cupping therapy is effective in reducing pain for those suffering from low back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain! (2) some research studies have shown it to be as effective or more effective than acetaminophen (Tylenol) and myofascial release (massage). (1-2)

How Long Do Cupping Marks Last?

This is a common question and it certainly depends on several different factors. Some of these factors include the degree of suction used, how severe the tension or tightness is in the musculature, how long the cups are left on for during treatment, and other variables such as hydration and activity levels.

With all that being said, cupping marks typically last between two and four days, sometimes a little bit longer. It is common to have more bruising your first couple times and then gradually have less bruising each time it is done. It is completely normal for the cupping marks to turn dark red or purple during this process.

Our next blog will talk about specific conditions that cupping therapy can help with including plantar fasciitis (foot pain), hamstring injuries, and we will talk you through Dr. Grant Speer’s own journey of cupping therapy with his sports injuries!

If you know someone in the Saint Johns, Florida area (Durbin Crossing, Aberdeen, RiverTown, Julington Creek Plantation, Beachwalk, Silverleaf) who is not able to live the active lifestyle that they want because of an injury or pain and could benefit from our thorough approach and comprehensive care, please share this post with them or send them our way!

We are conveniently located just south of Jacksonville in between CR 210 and Race Track Road, near where St. Johns Parkway and Longleaf Pine intersect! Right across the street from Patriot Oaks Academy in the 32259 zip code! Only 4 minutes from Durbin Park! We are committed to offering the best chiropractic care near you!

We help active adults & youth athletes get out of pain quickly & rehabilitate their injuries so they can get back to doing what they love pain-free! So, whether you’re looking to make a lifestyle change, recover from chronic pain, or become a better athlete, our experts at St. Johns Chiropractic & Performance can help you improve.

Do you need a chiropractor in St. Johns, Florida? Contact or call/text us today at 904-217-7078 to schedule your appointment.


  1. Chiu YC, Manousakas I, Kuo SM, Shiao JW, Chen CL. Influence of quantified dry cupping on soft tissue compliance in athletes with myofascial pain syndrome. PLoS One. 2020 Nov 19;15(11):e0242371. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242371. PMID: 33211769; PMCID: PMC7676738.
  2. Trofa DP, Obana KK, Herndon CL, Noticewala MS, Parisien RL, Popkin CA, Ahmad CS. The Evidence for Common Nonsurgical Modalities in Sports Medicine, Part 2: Cupping and Blood Flow Restriction. J Am Acad Orthop Surg Glob Res Rev. 2020 Jan;4(1):e1900105. doi: 10.5435/JAAOSGlobal-D-19-00105. PMID: 32672728; PMCID: PMC7028774.



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