Acupuncturist Questions Cupping

How does cupping therapy work?

I'm a swimmer, and I saw that Michael Phelps was doing this. Do you think that it could help me keep my mind focused?

27 Answers

Helps muscles that are fatigued it’s not the choice of treatment.
To keep your mind focused you better try meditation; for cupping it’s used to work on detoxify and relieving pain and it works for cough due to or from common cold to make sure with acupuncture and herbs.
No idea how it works. It helps some people. I don't really use it much in my practice... so wouldn't be my first or 5th thought in what I would use to help you. But acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle change together could help.
Cupping itself likely won't help to keep your mind focused. Cupping is a technique we use to alleviate muscular pain and phlegm that's stuck in your lungs (the stuff you can't cough up). The acupuncture treatments, however, can work to provide mental clarity and improved focus.
Most likely enhancing blood circulation and endorphin release. You can research further more about it on your own.
Cupping isn’t traditionally indicated for focusing the mind. It’s a detoxing technique to remove biotoxins, phlegm, pathogens and general muscle tension.
Cupping has a drawing effect on the tissues and muscles. It clears what we call stagnation, and brings about nourishment and healing to the area. Some like it better than massage, because the pressure of a massage may hurt too much, where cupping may not. When you are an athlete it helps to release those overworked muscles and helps them to relax and recover faster.
Yes, cupping can improve blood circulation and enhance the muscle flexibility. This will enhance your performance. You will be more focused when your body is in great condition.
Cupping is a therapy used mostly to "pull excess heat from the body." Athletes use it for some of the other benefits but if someone has a mind that is always racing, restless energy and trouble falling asleep then the cupping is great!
When a muscle is used repeatedly (as in Michael Phelps swimming multiple heats a day) pain and lymphatic waste build up in the muscles and so can trigger points and chronic muscular tightness. Cupping works by using negative pressure against the surface of the skin. This is also known as myofascial release. The pressure separates the layers of muscle, tendons and tissue, allowing fresh oxygen, blood and lymphatic drainage to activate in the area around the cups. Studies have shown that cupping can effect tissue up to 4" deep and 4" wide from the actual area where the cup is applied. The type of cups, technique and pressure do effect the treatment. Old fashioned Chinese cupping with glass cups have been found to be more gentle on the skin than plastic cups that use pumps to apply them to the skin.
Will it help you keep your mind focused? I am not sure, but probably not. Cupping has more effect locally than it does systemically.
Cupping main benefiets is to make circulation better especially in skin and musculature tissues. Ingeneral it can help the mind but needling in your issue is more effective

Cupping therapy usually takes care of muscular problems or injuries. Not sure if it can make you focus.
Cupping is a therapy that can be traced back to ancient cultures. It involves placing cups made of various material on the skin to create suction. By bringing more blood flow to the area, it can relieve pain and muscle tension, increase blood circulation and promote healing of tissues.

Cupping can be very relaxing and help an athlete’s muscles work at optimal level especially if they are tense. For helping the mind to focus, acupuncture may be a better choice, as it releases endorphins and balances other neurotransmitters for the mental benefits you seek.
Yes, since cupping is associated with blood flow and the improvement of circulation, it can definitely help in all areas of well being. Also, acupuncture would be very good for concentration problems.
Cupping is usually used for pain and stagnation as well as colds and cough. It improves circulation and removes blood stasis and phlegm, however, not everyone is a candidate for cupping, for a weak and deficient patient it can be draining and exhausting.
Good morning,

Cupping will not make your mind focused. In Chinese medicine, cupping's function is for relief of muscle spasm or cramp, and to improve the circulation.

Thank you, have a great day.

Dr. David Chen
Hi Dear,

Cupping helps draw out unnecessary substances from the body, it's a great way to detox and relief muscle tensions. For example, if you are a swimmer, you're soaked in water and chlorine frequently, so, in Chinese medicine philosophy, there could be too much dampness in the body, or chlorine toxicity. Cupping can help with these conditions. It might not directly help you keep your mind "focused," but detox and muscle tension relief in general can help you feel more relaxed and clean - hence indirectly affect your mood/focus. But usually, cupping is not associated with mind focusing if that's what you're asking.
Hope I've answered your questions.


Cupping therapy helps to reduce the inflammation and lactic acid build-up in the muscles. It is usually not used to help the mind to better focus. We recommend to do acupuncture

Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
Cupping isn't a treatment to keep the mind focused. It is a treatment to clear out stagnation in the blood or to remove external pathogens from the body.

Cupping done on athletes, such as Phelps, that leaves the dark marks is usually indicative of what we call "blood stagnation" i.e. the blood in the muscles wasn't flowing freely (due to overuse and overstrain). The cupping sucks up the "stuck blood' (causing marks) and then the fresh blood can flow more easily. The marks are an indication that the stagnation was there, but marks do not always show up when people get cupped regularly.

In a sense, the muscle aches being released and the blood flowing better could help you focus more on skills than the pain, but it's not designed to help you focus as primary strategy.

On a side note, cupping is also used to help open the surface and clear out stagnation that leads the coughing and phlegm we get with colds and flus. Being a swimmer could make you more susceptible to catching these, so not only can it help relive muscle pain but can help remove or reduce the time you have colds or flu signs. Make sure you see a licensed practitioner if you choose to go, so they can advise you of proper pre and post session cautions.

Good luck.
Yes, cupping helps muscles heal and keeps your mind as good as new.
Thank you for your question.

Your question about keeping your mind focused as an athlete is an important one. Ability to focus helps in preventing injuries in great part. Preventing injuries including repetitive injuries is the key to a long healthy life as an athlete. Traditional Chinese medicine, where the practice of cupping comes from, in some ways can help with focus in reducing stress overall and helping with recovery. Athletes tend to forget about the importance of rest and recovery. Cupping can help with that. It is not a direct link cupping = 3D focus. Promoting your health, healing from workouts, resting, etc., these all help the mind to recover as well and hence improve focus. Stress reduction is the key to all of life, whether we are an athlete or not.

Good luck and take good care of yourself,

Dr. B
Cupping uses mechanism of vacuum on the skin. It pulls fascia up (massage is opposite); therefore, the circulation beneath and within the connective tissues will have more space to move around. If there is circulation or Qi stagnation, it will show marks as Michael Phelps had. If you are healthy, no mark at all. It is not painful but some areas are sore during the cupping procedure. The best cupping result is to apply fired glass-made cups. However, only licensed acupuncturists are trained to do so. Many trainers are to use plastic cups with a pump because of easy to operate without formal training. It is relatively safe to use. I hope I have answered your question. Please go to to read more about the cupping therapy. Thank you.
Cupping is great to release tense muscles. You release toxins and tensions and tenderness. Try it and you will love it.
If your lack of focus is due to pain, then absolutely it may help. Cupping therapy is an incredible too for maintaining muscle health and releasing muscle tension, increasing range of motion and reducing pain. In Chinese medicine, we also use it for conditions such as asthma, cough, and other disorders. Due to the effect cupping has on the meridians, it is possible it could help improve concentration; however, it's the least effective approach. If your lack of focus is not due to pain, I would recommend acupuncture, neurotransmitter testing, herbs, and supplementation instead. You can find out more at
Cupping is used in a variety of ways in Chinese medicine. For athletes, we typically think of it in the context of myofascial release. In this case, we're using the cups to promote blood flow, improve recovery times, and keep the muscles loose. Those effects taken together might contribute to mental focus. Honestly, though, if mental focus is what you're looking for, I'd suggest acupuncture or mindfulness meditation.
Cupping is a way to remove excesses and stagnation from the body, so it can help with pain. I've not heard of it working to help focus the mind, though acupuncture itself can certainly have that effect.