Cupping Therapy Demystified

cupping scottsdale

Cupping is cropping up on spa menus across the nation. What is cupping therapy and how does it work? Here’s what we dug up.

It’s a little jarring when you first see them—round, reddish marks peeking out of the back of someone’s tank top or tee. The conspicuous signs of cupping therapy may be what has propelled its recent popularity (thanks Michael Phelps) but it’s nothing new in Eastern medicine. Also referred to as suction massage, says the practice of using cups to create suction on the skin has long been used in China as a way to increase blood circulation and accelerate healing. We wanted to know more. How does this weird and wacky therapy work? And why oh why would someone choose to bear the marks of this treatment all in the name of wellness? We asked Stevie White, spa director at Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, for answers.

Here’s what she shared.

What is cupping and what conditions does it treat?

Cupping is a wonderful therapy, used safely for hundreds of years by people all over the world. Cupping is the application of a vacuum to the skin surface for therapeutic effect. By creating suction and negative pressure, cupping is used to soften tight muscles (sometimes in preparation for deeper work), loosen adhesions, and separate layers of connective tissue to bring hydration and blood flow to body tissues. Suction pulls toxins, pathogenic factors and cellular debris from deep within tissues to the surface, where they are reabsorbed and flushed out via the lymphatic system. It is a detoxifying treatment—helping to relieve pain, discomfort, soreness, tightness and stagnation in myofascial tissue.

What areas of the body is it mostly done on?

The most frequently requested areas of treatment are the nape of the neck, shoulders and back. Cupping areas to avoid are face, front and side of neck, where edema is present and where lymph nodes are present.

Does it hurt?

Everybody will react differently to cupping therapy—clients may experience mild to moderate discomfort during a cupping session. Others will find cupping highly enjoyable.

How long does the discoloration from cupping last?

There is no way to know in advance how long it will last. Some marks fade in a couple hours and others may last up to a week.

Will one treatment really make a difference ?

It depends totally on what the client needs, but even one session is helpful. Some may want to have weekly sessions.

What type of cupping therapy do you offer at Joya?

We use silicone cups, which can be applied in two ways, stationary or “sliding” (sometimes referred to as massage cupping). Cupping can be light, relaxing and sedating, or it can be deep, therapeutic and stimulating.

Are there any potential negative side effects?

Cupping is a natural, drugless, detoxifying treatment. Depending on the health of the client, the amount of toxins released and the amount of hydration of the client, the degree of discoloration can vary greatly. The client must consider being seen with such marks, even though discoloration is considered a positive result of cupping therapy.

Anything else we should know before we jump in?

We advise clients to avoid excessive heat, cold, wind and strenuous exercise for 4 to 6 hours after the session, to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, have an Epsom salt bath, and wait until discolorations from treatment have faded to be cupped again in the same area.

Cupping is offered at Joya as a 50-minute treatment ( $169-$199) or as a massage add-on ($30). As a Joya Spa guest, you’ll enjoy full reign of the spa’s extensive amenities so be sure to make a day of it. For more, see the Joya Spa menu at

Where else can I get cupping in Scottsdale and Phoenix?

Want more options? Cupping is available at the following Valley locations.

Village Health Clubs & Spas, Valleywide. Prices and durations vary at the four Village Spa locations which include Camelback in Phoenix, Gainey Village in Scottsdale, DC Ranch in North Scottsdale and Ocotillo in Chandler. At the Camelback location, a 30-minute cupping treatment is $65 for non-members and can be added on as a spot treatment during a massage for $25. Your Village Spa visit includes full access to the club amenities and fitness classes on the day of your visit. Get more info at

The Spa at Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale. This 14-floor retreat offers a gentle form of cupping perfect for first-timers and relaxation seekers. Considered a specialty services, the Spa Lymphatic Cupping Massage treatment is 60-minutes for $159. Learn more at

Well & Being at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. A 60-minute Cupping treatment at this breathtaking resort spa starts at $185 and includes access to the extensive amenities including a rooftop pool and cascading waterfall. Get details at

Fuschia Spa at High Street, Phoenix. For first-time clients, the 80-minute Therapeutic Massage Cupping is $99 or you can opt for a regular 50-minute Custom Massage with one to two cupping spt treatments for $69. Find out more at

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