This Week from Olympus Movement: All You Need to Know about Cupping Therapy

This Week from Olympus Movement: All You Need to Know about Cupping Therapy

Annemarie Alf, head trainer for San Diego Loyal Soccer Club, is usually ahead of the curve when it comes to sports medicine and physical therapy. Cupping therapy is no different.

As athletes get back to the training grounds and competition fields, therapeutic recovery will be vital. Read on to find out if cupping is something you’d like to add to your recovery program.


by Annemarie Alf, PT, DPT, CSCS

Cupping has been a hot topic since the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

It has been a ‘tool’ in my PT toolbox since early 2012 and I have been using it since.  I worked and learned daily from Chinese Medicine specialists, as they did the same from me; while I spent a year in China between 2012 and 2013. The biggest thing we both learned from one another was that the blend of Eastern and Western Therapies worked best together.  

Traditional Chinese medicine techniques, such as cupping, WITH a Western style movement pattern-based exercise approach was the way our athletes got better faster!  Therefore, when I returned to the US, I began integrating cupping into my practice when appropriate.  It’s not for every person, athlete, or diagnosis; evaluation and movement assessment MUST be done 1st.  It is one piece of the puzzle, NOT the only piece.  I have made the technique my own, as most experienced practitioners do with everything; mine a more movement specific approach.

There are a lot of theories on how and why cupping works.

  • Cupping can create decompression
  • Cupping can create a different stimulus to the system
  • Cupping creates microcirculation
  • Cupping can create improved fascial- muscle gliding when performed with movement
  • Cupping promotes a specific healing response
  • Cupping can decrease pain and improve movement

Is there a ton of research supporting it or disputing it? No not yet. 

There likely is in Mandarin Chinese but until that gets translated, our own case studies and outcomes will continue to dictate our practices of integrating cupping.  But for me — in my own practice with my clients — it works.  Hands down.  

If you want to try it, or think you’ll benefit from it AND want to move better pain free; schedule an appointment with us at: