What is cupping therapy? Back pain, shoulder & neck tension

Dr Alec Mulqueeney
Myofascial cupping, or sometimes just cupping is a technique used by osteopaths to help relieve muscle tension, increase circulation and blood flow, and promote healing and recovery.

What is cupping?

Myofascial cupping, or sometimes just cupping is a technique used by osteopaths to help relieve muscle tension, increase circulation and blood flow, and promote healing and recovery.

Cupping involves placing cups on specific areas of the body, and using suction (and sometimes a little heat) creating a vacuum to gently lift on the skin, fascia and muscle, drawing blood into the area and separating the layers of tissue.

The result of this is the negative pressure on the muscles and fascia along with the increased blood flow can stimulate recovery and help to reduce pain and improve mobility.

Oh, and you often get those perfectly circular purple spots where the blood has been brought into the cupped spot. Don’t panic though, these aren’t painful and fade in a couple of days.

Enso Osteopathy offers cupping therapy for muscular complaints

Benefits of cupping in osteopathy

  1. Improved circulation and lymphatic flow: Cupping helps to increase blood flow and lymphatic circulation to the areas where it is applied. This increased circulation can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing of injured or damaged tissue.
  2. Pain relief and improved range of motion: Cupping can help to release tension and tightness in the muscles and fascia, which can help to relieve pain and improve range of motion. It is especially effective for treating areas of the body that are difficult to stretch or manipulate manually.
  3. Relaxation and stress reduction: Cupping can also have a calming effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who are experiencing chronic pain or tension-related conditions.


For one, the technique is non-invasive which can make it an alternative to more direct approaches such as deep soft tissue work or dry needling .


Cups are quick to apply, easy to manipulate and give an almost immediate result, which means that they can be incorporated into regular osteopathic consultations leaving plenty of time to also assess, massage and manipulate.


Cupping really works! While the science is at times limited, the anecdotal feedback we get and osteopaths around Australia get is that clients really like cupping and they feel immediate and lasting results. So while we work hard to be an evidence based clinic, the power of such a force of anecdotal support and sound logic behind the principles makes cupping an important part of our practice.

Use cases for cupping

Cupping is just one of many tools that an Osteo has at their disposal, and by no means is cupping compulsory. Along with massage, manipulations, needling and exercise cupping is used strategically as part of your osteopathic appointment.

Cupping and osteopathy for lower back pain

One of the most common areas that myofascial cupping is used for is in the treatment of lower back pain.

The cupping technique is particularly well suited to relieving tension in the muscles of the lower back, which can be a common cause or byproduct of pain and injury in this area. By cupping the muscules of the lower back such as the Lumbar erectors, and and the quadrates lumborum muscle these muscles can see improved function and mobility, ultimately leading to a quicker and more lasting reduction in lower back pain levels and increases in both function and mobility.

Cupping for shoulder and neck pain

Another area where myofascial cupping is commonly used and incredibly beneficial is in the treatment of neck and shoulder pain and muscular tension.

With cupping the therapist can help to increase circulation to these areas and loosen up troublesome tight muscles. Cupping is effective for many muscular injuries both acute an chronic but especially for common conditions such as shoulder tendinopathy, Rye necks, tension headaches or general neck and upper back discomfort and stiffness.

Enso Osteopathy Cupping for back pain and shoulder tension.

Interested in cupping? Book a consult at Enso Osteopathy

Myofascial cupping is a useful technique for osteopathic consultations, particularly when dealing with low back pain and neck and shoulder pain. By increasing circulation and loosening up tight muscles, this technique can help to reduce pain and improve mobility, making it easier to perform everyday tasks without discomfort. If you're interested in learning more about myofascial cupping or other osteopathic techniques, speak with us here at Enso Osteopathy and Beauty and see if myofascial cupping would be suitable for you.

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