Got Cupped? GCU Cupping Clinic

By Myles Williams and Cassandra Jones
Pre-Physical Therapy Majors, College of Science, Engineering and Technology

GCU cupping therapy session

Have you ever seen people walking around with red circles on their back, legs or arms? How about Michael Phelps in the Olympics with strange marks on his back? Well, we finally figured out what the conversation was really about. On September 23, a group of students from Grand Canyon University AzHOSA and the GCU Physical Therapy Club got to partake in a cupping clinic and live demonstration. The cupping clinic featured the expertise of Kelly Zink, an athletic trainer from Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy in Peoria, Arizona.

What is Cupping?

cupping clinic

Kelly spoke on the science and physiology behind cupping therapy. Cupping is a relatively new modality within the world of rehabilitation used by physical therapists, athletic trainers, physical therapy assistants and chiropractors. The benefits of cupping are similar to a deep tissue massage or dry needling, however, it uses a negative pressure to promote blood flow to the targeted area (Ge, Leson, & Vukovic, 2017). Cupping is a form of myofascial decompression that helps increase motion by using a suction cup in order to lift up the fascia that surrounds the muscle (“Defining MFD,” 2017). Restrictions in the tissue caused by acute or chronic injuries can affect normal biomechanics and reduce the force produced by a muscle (“Myofascial decompression,” 2014). The main purposes of cupping therapy include the relief of these restrictions, treating pain, decreasing muscle tightness and promoting blood flow to the targeted area. The different types of cupping that can be used are dry cupping, wet cupping and fire cupping, although dry cupping is the safest form out of the three.

Hands-on Experience

After the lecture was given by Kelly, students had the opportunity to practice dry cupping techniques on each other. Although slightly painful, students enjoyed the hands-on experience, and were motivated to purchase their own cupping sets following the clinic. For PT majors like ourselves, it was very interesting to see a new form of rehab that we can use in the future when we treat our patients. Pre-med students even ventured out to see what cupping was really about!

GCU AzHOSA and the GCU Physical Therapy Club hope to partner up again to host more physical therapy related workshops like the cupping clinic. This clinic bridged the gap between the two clubs and created personal and professional relationships can last a lifetime!

To learn more about degree programs in Grand Canyon University’s former College of Science, Engineering and Technology, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.


  • “Dry Cupping for Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (2017). Ge, W., Leson, C., Vukovic, C. Journal of Physical Therapy Science (29)5: 859-862.
  • “Defining MFD.” (2017). Retrieved from
  • “Myofascial Decompression (Cupping Therapy)- The What’s, Why’s, and How’s.” Retrieved from

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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