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Cupping vs. Massage: Which Therapy Is Right for You

Cupping vs. Massage: Which Therapy Is Right for You

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Cupping vs. massage is a therapy consideration if you require help recovering from an injury or condition. Each of these approaches offers you similar and distinct sets of benefits.

Likewise, there may be other considerations to consider before making a decision. In either case, choosing between massage vs. cupping may ultimately depend on your preference.

This article should ease your decision if you select any of these treatment plans. You must learn about each approach, similarities, differences, and the factors to consider.

Keep reading to learn more!

Understanding Cupping Therapy and Massage Therapy

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When considering cupping vs. massage, you must understand each approach is different. Therefore, discussing each technique should give a better idea of the treatment strategies.

Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is a physical therapy approach that involves the application of suction to specific areas of the skin and muscles. In general, the pulling process may happen through heat or air suction.

This practice is prevalent in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. However, cupping therapy is now in most parts of the West.

In particular, celebrities and professionals consider this strategy as an excellent physical therapy option. In addition, it promotes relaxation, increases blood flow, and offers relief from pain.

Massage Therapy

When considering cupping vs. massage, massage therapy is an ancient physical technique that involves applying pressure, rubbing, and kneading muscles. Although massage therapist may primarily use their hands, they may also rely on tools for manipulating soft tissues, including tendons and muscles.

It is a practice that improves blood circulation, relieves knots, and enhances relaxation. In addition, undergoing massage therapy can have a positive impact on your mental health by relieving anxiety and stress.

Beyond normal muscle manipulation, deep tissue massage exists as a variation of typical therapy. It helps resolve multiple health problems beyond what the conventional technique does.

Comparing Cupping and Massage

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When comparing cupping vs. massage, you should consider each approach. You should learn about the differences and similarities between cupping therapy and massage.

Looking at this comparison should help you differentiate the two therapies. Furthermore, it should help you select the best approach for your peculiar needs.

Key Differences

In general, there are several differences between massage vs. cupping. Below are a few to consider.

  • Technique: Cupping is an approach that uses cups to establish suction on specific areas that require treatment. On the other hand, massage primarily depends on the skills and techniques of the therapies when manipulating and kneading muscles and other tissues.
  • Sensation: In general, cupping may produce uncomfortable feelings as cups pull on the skin, muscles, and other tissues. Conversely, massage therapy has a feeling of pressure, rubbing, and kneading and mostly soothes and provides relief to patients.
  • Tools: silicone, glass, or similar materials primarily constitute the cup types used for cupping. However, therapists mostly use their hands to manipulate the bodies of their patients. In addition, they may use kerokan, gua sha, and other similar items for deep tissue manipulations.
  • Marks: The cups used during cupping sessions can leave marks on the surface of the skin that disappears after a few days. On the other hand, massage does not leave any visible marks. However, the skin may become red, especially when a kerokan or gua sha is used.
  • Duration: Cupping typically lasts a few minutes. In most cases, it usually does not go beyond 30 minutes. However, a massage therapy session may last a few minutes or a couple of hours, especially when a patient requires extensive work.

When considering cupping vs. massage, Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy offers the best services for any of these therapies. You can reach out to these professionals by speaking with a PT or requesting an appointment.

Similarities in Benefits

Although there are distinct differences between massage and cupping, there exist several similarities. Highlighted below are a few.

  • Both physical therapy techniques help eliminate or minimize tension and stress. These approaches should help you relax your body.
  • If you are suffering from pain or soreness, either therapy can alleviate the discomfort. In particular, cupping activates natural healing while massage removes knots.
  • Through massage and cupping, you can activate how blood flows in your body. Through kneading and other manipulations, massage therapy should enhance body flow to different parts of your body. Similarly, cupping also improves circulation.
  • Each therapy helps you holistically. As such, you should feel calm and relaxed after these sessions.

As for athletes looking to enhance their performance, they should consider accessing cupping for runners. This service should restore range of motion and improve sensory synchronization.

Choosing the Right Therapy

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Before selecting a therapy, one should consider a few factors. Furthermore, your personal preference will determine the approach you choose.

Factors to Consider

When deciding between cupping vs. massage, you should consider the following factors.

  • You must consider your health goals before making a decision. Doing this helps you select the best therapy for your specific needs.
  • Understand your medical status and how these therapies may affect you.
  • Consider whether you prefer soothing hands or suction.
  • Evaluate the duration of each session. Cupping typically lasts a few minutes. However, massage can last a few hours.
  • The cost of the technique may depend on the duration, the PT you choose, and the problem you want resolved.

Personal Preferences

Before making the final decision, it is essential to answer, “Is cupping better than massage?” You can do this by considering your personal preferences. You can achieve this by openly speaking with therapists about the things you prefer. Doing this helps you make the best decision.

Likewise, the sensation you prefer may help you select a particular approach. Alternatively, you can try out each therapy to learn which you want.


Learning about cupping vs. massage requires you to understand each therapy. Similarly, you will want to compare the two techniques. You can achieve this by learning about the differences and similarities between the two approaches.

Before choosing the right therapy, you should consider specific factors and personal preferences. Following these steps should help you get the best treatment from your local physical therapist.