Most of us have seen the famous picture of Michael Phelps in the Rio Olympics, sporting the “circular bruises” on his back and shoulders. Which sent the world into a frenzy discussing and trying this “new” therapeutic technique.

When asking my clients “have you ever seen cupping before?”, I usually get the response, No?. Until I refer to the following picture (or the japanese fire cupping techniques in movies :P).



Many of my clients as well as myself have walked around with the red/purple marks on our necks, shoulders, backs, arms and even legs, for all to see. I personally often get reactions from people commenting on the major bruising on the areas.

“Doesn’t bruising mean pain?”, “That means they are going too deep!”, “Your therapist is HURTING you!”

and my personal favorite (referring to treatment to the neck); “WOW! look at those massive hickies!”


The word “bruise” is associated for people with pain, injury, inflammation, bad, tissue damage, etc. SO, how in the world could someone walk out of a therapeutic treatment session with more “bruises” than they had before??

Well, because, they aren’t technically bruises, at least not in the typical use of the word. They are purple, blue, yellow, black, they are tender to touch at times, BUT the therapist is using the blood flow and suction to draw toxins out of the body.


Cupping and Gua Sha alike utilize the bodys’ fluid and blood flow systems to increase the healing process. Aside from ridding the area of toxins and replenishing with nutrients and oxygen, these therapeutic techniques also help the body to relieve facial and muscular adhesions….Throw in some scar tissue release, detoxification, immune boosting and we have a well rounded therapeutic technique, but that isn’t what we are talking about in this Blog..


How exactly do these methods stimulate such healing properties??


This technique uses suction to pull the skin and fascia up away from the body. This pulls the blood, toxins to the surface stimulating blood flow which may have been inhibited prior to the technique.

It also pulls the skin and fascia up allowing for the muscles to have more room to relax if adhesions are present. Lastly, the cups can do the same for the fascia and skin; allowing for pressure to be taken off them in order for the adhesions or scar tissue to release.



This form of scrapping is similar to that which a therapist would perform with their fingers often times while they are utilizing massage techniques to release the fascia and muscles.

The pressure on the tissues allow for a deeper release to the area, which also applied slowly and strategically to bring the blood to the surface, again flushing the toxins out of the injured area.



But wait! I didn’t answer the most important question!


Hurt, pain, more words that are misrepresented in the world of deep tissue massage and release.

The simplest answer; no?

The more complicated and scary, let me explain answer; yes?

If the techniques are performed correctly they should not “hurt” as in, you won’t want to cry hurt. If they do, the therapist is in need of more oil/lotion, they need to change their angle or they are simply going too deep. (IF YOU ARE TENSING UP AS A RESULT OF THE PAIN, THE TREATMENT IS MOST LIKELY GOING TO MAKE YOU WORSE)

That being said, discomfort may be present, it is no frilly lilly relaxation massage, we are breaking up scar tissue, releasing trigger points, pushing through adhesions. So, you will not love the feeling, but again, “hurt” is a strong word that often scares people.


Intrigued? Want more information on how I utilize these techniques in my rehabilitation process, and how I do them differently than the typical stand alone methods?

Visit me at my new location in Invermere, BC (online bookings available) or contact me at;

Would like to know more before committing to a treatment? Here are just a few websites I found that you might be interested in:


*Article to be found in this years’ Vitality Magazine written by Journalist and Crossfit Coach Eric Elliott* More information to come at a later date 😀

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