Benefits of Massage & Cupping

Massage and cupping are the oldest forms of medicine and have been part of every culture throughout history.

Massage not only feels great, but it’s highly therapeutic. It increases blood circulation throughout the body, relieves sore muscles and joints, breaks down scar tissue or “knots”, and helps remove toxins by activating the lymph system.

Massage works hand in hand with chiropractic. The nerves control the muscles.

If there’s a pinched nerve causing a muscle to spasm, the muscle is massaged to help it relax, but that’s only treating the symptom. With chiropractic, we address the root cause be relieving the pressure on the nerve which controls the muscle spasm.


Cupping uses either fire or a pump to cause a negative pressure or vacuum inside the cup which is then placed on the skin. This vacuum pulls the skin, muscle, and fascia slightly up into the cup bringing fresh oxygen and nutrient-rich blood in and through the injured tissues helping them to heal more quickly.

At the same time, it also helps to pull out old toxins and stagnant blood out of the belly of the muscle, knots, and surrounding area to the surface of the skin so that it can be recirculated and filtered out of the body.

This is what leaves the red and purple marks on the skin. We are often asked about this and confirm that, yes, it's like a "giant hickey". (But thankfully, they’re easily covered by your clothes.)

What's interesting about cupping is that the colored marks indicate where and how bad the area is. The darker the color, the more old toxic blood was stuck in that area.

Even more interesting is how with each subsequent cupping session over the same area, the dark spots get lighter and eventually go away because the old toxic blood has been replaced with new healthy blood.

This  makes cupping not only a great treatment modality, but also an indicator of the problem and progress.

Does it hurt?

Many people ask this and in fact, not at all - it's very relaxing.

Many Olympians receive cupping to increase their performance and decrease their recovery time. Michael Phelps was seen having cupping marks on his back and shoulders during the Olympics - the year he broke the world record in gold medals for swimming.

Cupping is an essential part of modern sports medicine. At SOHMA our doctors “treat you like an Olympian".

Advanced Cupping

There are advanced techniques with cupping such as performing acupuncture and then placing a cup over the needle. It’s designed to move the Qi and blood in that area. This is an advanced level of cupping that should only be performed by an experienced acupuncturist.

Another technique is called moving cupping. Plenty of lotion or oil is placed over the affected area to allow the cup to seal to the skin and allow it to move. The practitioner then slides the attached cup over the affected area, usually a shoulder or the back to break down the scar tissue and flush the area with lots of healthy new blood.

We often get asked if fire cupping is better than pump action cupping - this depends on who you ask. Mechanically speaking, there isn't really much difference. Suction is suction. However, from the view of an acupuncturist, we consider the importance of the five elements: earth, metal, water, wood, and fire.

When the fire element is introduced to cupping, it slightly warms the area and adds a subtle five element energy component.

We can more easily control the level of suction with fire cupping - versus using a pump - by controlling the size of the flame and the time the flame is in the cup before we place the cup on the patient. So the difference between the two modalities is negligible.

When deciding fire cupping or pump action cupping we recommend you leave it up to the practitioner. Whatever they are most comfortable with is probably the best and you'll get the same awesome result, a "giant hickey" showing how bad your back is and how many more sessions you’ll benefit from.

What to Expect

All of our doctors at SOHMA are trained and experienced with cupping technology and we have two licensed massage therapists on the team.

Massage prices range from $1 a minute to $90 an hour and we're happy to perform an insurance verification for all of our patients.

Cupping therapy range from $40 to $80 per session and typically last for 30 minutes.

Email us or call us (562) 420-2112 today to learn more, or to book an appointment.