Although cupping is generally associated with Chinese medicine, cupping was practiced in Ancient Egypt and Greece, and also in Medieval Europe. Cupping was first mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus – a medical text from Egypt that dates from over 3,000 years ago. The current interest in cupping is related to the attention in the West now being paid to traditional Chinese medical practices.

Cupping involves using small containers to produce a slight vacuum when placed against the skin. The vacuum pulls up a section of skin into the cup. Traditional Chinese medicine uses cups made from sections of bamboo, however a wider variety of cups are used today.

How Cupping Works

The object of cupping is to draw more blood to the surface of the skin. This is achieved by creating a partial vacuum inside the cup, usually by means of heated air, and then placing the cup on the skin. As the air cools and contracts, the skin is drawn up into the cup. The cup is usually left on between five and ten minutes and then removed. There will be a distinctive red circle left on the skin where the tissue has been pulled up. This will fade over the course of several days.

When beginning traditional cupping, an open-bottomed glass globe will have a lighted piece of cotton inserted briefly. This heats the air inside the globe rapidly, and the open end of the cup is then placed on the subject’s body. Another approach is to use plastic cups that allow the therapist to remove the air by means of a pump mechanism. This gives more control over how much tissue is drawn up into the cup. In some cases, oil is massaged onto the skin so that the cup can be moved over the affected area easily. Oil also helps to create a better seal for the cup.

Types of Cupping

Over the years, several different types of cupping have developed. In some ways, cupping mimics acupuncture in that it is believed to stimulate the body’s pressure points to provide for the normal and healthy distribution of fluids and energy. Aromatic oils are sometimes used in the cupping glass for added effect.

Dry cupping is probably the method most often employed. A slight vacuum will be created in the cup either by heating the cup directly or holding the open end near a flame. After the cup is placed on the skin, the cooling air draws the skin up.

Wet cupping is also called Hijama. After using dry cupping for up to five minutes, the therapist will make small incisions in the area. The cup is prepared once again and applied to the affected area. Blood will be drawn out of the body in the vacuum.

Massage cupping (also known as glide cupping) involves moving the cup over the affected area, such as the back, to combine both massage and cupping, this effectively causes a myofascial release.

Needle cupping uses acupuncture needles in conjunction with the cup. The acupuncture needle will be inserted into the underlying tissue first, with the cup being placed over the needle immediately afterwards.

Fire cupping requires that the practitioner use a cotton ball that has been soaked in methylated spirits and then set alight, to heat the air inside the cup. As the o xygen inside the cup is consumed, the vacuum is formed.

Silicone cupping uses flexible, silicone cups. This method has been found to eliminate or at least reduce the bruising that generally accompanies cupping.

Health Benefits of Cupping

The benefits of cupping are not actually ‘skin deep’, but rather extend up for four inches into the body. Cupping provides both physical and mental benefits including:

  • Cupping brings the body’s blood closer to the skin’s surface, which is thought to increase circulation generally.
  • Tight, painful muscles are loosened during cupping, helping to promote healing and relaxation of muscle fibers.
  • Scar tissue and adhesions after surgery can be painful as the tightened tissue pulls during movement. Cupping can help to soften these tissues and make them more flexible and pliable, reducing pain.
  • Cupping helps to move lymph fluid through the body more effectively, bolstering and strengthening the immune system.
  • Those who are depressed or anxious often feel much more relaxed and positive after massage cupping.

Cupping is also thought to be beneficial to those suffering from respiratory ailments such as colds, asthma, allergies, or bronchitis.


Our massage therapists are available at the below sportsmed locations. To make an appointment or enquiry with one of our massage therapists, contact the location directly or email

You can find out more about our massage therapists, their special interests and consulting locations by visiting their profiles below.

Our Massage Therapists


We specialise in preventative care, treatment and rehabilitation for a range of ailments, injuries and conditions of the hip, knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. Our fact sheets are designed to provide you with a brief overview and basic understanding of the range of ailments, injuries and conditions relevant to the upper and lower limbs.

Learn about condition symptoms, non-operative and surgical treatment options, risks and complications, recovery times, and much more. Please keep in mind that treatment methods and outcomes vary from patient to patient. Each individual patient has specialised requirements that may be different to the information provided on the fact sheets.

Make an appointment

Our massage therapists are available at the below sportsmed locations with appointments available Monday to Saturday. To make an appointment, contact the location directly or email A GP referral is not required.

All patients including private health members, uninsured, workers’ compensation, DVA, third party and public liability patients are welcome at sportsmed.

What to bring to your appointment

For your massage appointment, please ensure you bring the following with you:

  • Comfortable clothing – there may be a little residual cream from the massage that can get on your clothes
  • Medicare card
  • Private health insurance card (if applicable)
  • DVA card (if applicable)
  • Claim number (workers’ compensation and third party patients) and contact details for your case manager*.

*Workers’ compensation and third party patients must have a current claim and approval from their case manager before receiving a massage. In the event of a claim not being accepted, the patient is personally responsible for any costs incurred. Some of our massage therapists are accredited with ReturnToWorkSA and Allianz Motor Vehicle insurance. Allianz Motor Vehicle patients must pay for their consultation on the day and can claim back through their insurer.

Day of appointment

Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your allocated appointment time. Our staff will provide you with the appropriate paperwork required to be completed before the consultation with your practitioner.

Try not to eat a large meal before your massage, because your body will be directing its energy to digestion and you may become chilled or uncomfortable.

Wear or bring comfortable clothing for after the massage. There may be a little residual cream from the massage that can get on your clothes.

In the treatment room, lighting is dim in order to allow you to relax. Specially selected stress-relieving music plays, but always feel free to bring your own music or ask to have the music changed if it does not suit you.

Your therapist will leave the room to prepare for your massage, and you will be instructed to remove your clothing and lay on the massage table under a towel. Your modesty will be protected at all times. As your therapist works, they will uncover body parts to be massaged, never working on private areas.

In a full body massage your scalp, face, neck and shoulders will be massaged. The therapist may massage just under the collarbone at the Pectoralis muscle. Arms and hands will be massaged. Massage of abdominal muscles is a wonderful aid to digestion. The front of the legs, feet, back of the legs, posterior hip (gluteal) and back will also be massaged.

For those not receiving full body massage, targeted areas of tension or soreness will be massaged, working the individual muscles specifically.

Massage pressure is specifically tailored to your body. We never massage so deeply that you feel the need to hold your breath or tense your body. We will ask you for feedback about the pressure several times during the massage. Please be honest!

After the massage, the therapist will leave the treatment room while you get dressed. We will then discuss your experience, what you may expect during the next day or so and if a plan of specifically scheduled massages is indicated.

You will be reminded to drink LOTS of water during the next 24 hours, because massage moves some of the muscle metabolic by-products into circulation faster than usual, and the water will help to flush your system.

If you have questions, comments or feedback at any time during your visit, you are encouraged to discuss them with your therapist. With communication and feedback, your massage therapy visit will be a positive, pleasant experience.

Financial information

Consultation fee

30-minute consultation – $65.00
60-minute consultation – $95.00

For massage consultations, please bring along your private health insurance card or relevant documentation (workers’ compensation, DVA, third party etc.), if applicable, and Medicare card to ensure your claim can be processed at the time of consultation.

All private health funds and patients including uninsured are welcome at sportsmed. Some health funds will cover a percentage of the cost for massage services, however we recommend you check your level of cover with your private health fund to know exactly what you are entitled to for each consultation and the gap you may be expected to pay. Any gap payments are expected to be settled on the day of consultation.

We provide onsite HICAPS and ask that all accounts are settled on the day of consultation via EFT, Visa Card, Mastercard, AMEX, cheque or cash.

Cancellation policy

We understand your time is valuable. All of our practitioners endeavour to run on schedule and your punctual attendance will assist this. Please feel free to ring us 30 minutes prior to your appointment to confirm if your practitioner is running on time. Should you arrive late for your appointment your practitioner will do their best to provide you with your full treatment time, but in rare instances, appointments may need to be rescheduled.

We do ask that you contact us and give at least 24 hours notice should you need to reschedule or cancel your appointment. Regular cancellations or cancellations with less than 24-hour notice may incur a cancellation fee.