Cupping- Not Just for Olympians

Cupping marks on Michael PhelpsSeen the large cupping marks on Michael Phelps, the swimmer who recently won his 23rd Olympic Gold Medal? Cupping is becoming very popular lately, with many sportspeople and celebrities using it to repair their bodies or improve their health. According to Ralph Reiff, a sports performance expert who has worked on over 100 members of the current U.S. Olympic team, the therapy also is popular with the USA track and field team as well as the swimming stars. He said “It’s very much common in our practice. We’ve found it to be an effective alternative therapy to add to our toolkit of resources.’’

Cupping advocates are also said to include LaShawn Merritt, who has recorded the top time in the world this year in the 400 meters, while champion tennis player Andy Murray and boxer Floyd Mayweather have been seen sporting cupping marks.

Olympic gymnast Alex Naddour has found the treatment “provides relief from the soreness and pounding that come from gymnastics”. He told a reporter “That's been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy. It's been better than any money I've spent on anything else. It has saved me from a lot of pain.”

Meanwhile movies stars Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, and Jessica Simpson have been using cupping for years to improve their health.

What is Cupping?

Cupping on the backGlass or plastic ‘cups’ are placed on the skin and a suction is created to draw the skin and muscle up a little. For ‘vacuum cups’ some of the air is pumped out of the cup to create the suction, and for ‘fire cups’, a flame is used to create the vacuum before the cup is quickly placed on the skin. (We only use vacuum cups at our clinic, as the pressure can be controlled far more accurately.)

What Does Cupping Do?

Dr Ayaaz Farhat, the co-director of the London Cupping Clinic, said “It is a very effective way to enhance, encourage and even accelerate the body's own immune response to injury.”

“The main benefits are encouraging the inflammatory response of the body and speeding up muscular and soft tissue recovery after injury and strain. Cupping therapy has widened significantly though in the last few years and newer techniques are being used for conditions and diseases away from sports therapy such as migraines and eczema.”

In a nutshell, cupping loosens tight muscles, improves blood flow, clears toxins, and improves healing.

How it Helps the Muscles

Loosens Tight Muscles

Massage works by pushing down on muscles to cause them to relax. Cupping has a similar effect, but pulls the muscles up instead of pushing them down.

Reduces Muscle Soreness

Strenuous exercise or prolonged muscle tightness results in metabolic wastes that can cause muscles soreness, and the increased blood flow from cupping helps to get rid of these wastes, allowing the muscles to feel better and recover faster.

By increasing the blood flow, cupping also helps to flush out old toxins, which may have been hanging around for years.

Improves Healing

The increased blood flow brings extra oxygen and nutrients to the area, allowing any muscle damage such as micro-tearing (a very common effect of exercise) to repair much more quickly and effectively. This also means there is far less chance of tiny amounts of scar tissue forming in the muscles.

Cupping is therefore very good for muscle soreness, recovery from training or sports events, sports injuries, preparation for sports events, back pain, hip pain, sciatic problems, shoulder pain, etc. It is often included as part of a massage or acupuncture treatment.

How it Improves Your Health

In acupuncture and many other traditional systems of medicine, poor blood flow can cause almost any part of the body to not work properly. Think of the cells of your body like little plants- if you give them plenty of water and nutrients, they will be healthy, thrive, and perform well. (On the other hand, what happens if you put your plants in a dark cupboard and don’t water them?) In the same way, cells in your body that have plenty of oxygen and nutrients, and have their wastes cleared quickly, will be healthy and perform well; those with poor blood flow will not do well, and are likely to perform badly or become diseased.

Jennifer Aniston's cupping marks

Jennifer Aniston's cupping marks

In Japan, it is a recognised therapy, and highly-trained cupping practitioners treat a very broad variety of conditions.

Used for Thousands of Years

There is reason to believe cupping was used as early as 3,000 BC, and it has been a part of traditional medicine in most parts of the world for thousands of years. Cupping was practiced in the Babylon - Assyrian Empire, and an Egyptian papyrus from 1,550 BC describes its use. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine’, used cupping for internal diseases and structural problems, and it was also popular with the Arabs. Cupping was also practiced in many other places in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. The modern methods of use originated in China and Japan thousands of years ago, and it continues to be used in many locations around the world today, such as Italy, Egypt, Greece, Holland, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam. In 1946, the writer George Orwell described cupping being performed in a Paris hospital.

Types of Cupping

There are two main forms of cupping used today- Chinese (which may cause bruise marks) and Japanese (no bruise marks). In Australia, the Chinese method is mostly used for muscle or structural problems, especially back pain, sciatic or shoulder pain, whereas the Japanese technique is used more for internal health problems. Japanese cupping can even be used on young children, who usually find it fun!


However, as with any therapy, it is important to see a properly trained therapist. Cupping should never be performed over broken skin, on the abdomen or back of pregnant women, over inflamed or bleeding organs (such as a stomach ulcer), or on anyone who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, heart issues, or blood vessel problems.

Having said that, all of the cupping therapists at our clinic are highly trained and experienced. We offer both the Chinese (may bruise) and Japanese (no bruise) styles.

How Effective Would Cupping be for Me?

So if you have a health problem that is not getting better, if you often have tight sore muscles, have a back, shoulder, or other structural problem, or if you want to perform better and recover faster after your sport or training, please feel free to give us a call on 3376 6911 and talk to our Head Therapist. He will be able to advise you on just how effective cupping treatments will be for your condition.

Common Causes of Hip and Lower Back Pain

Hip pain is often caused by a problem with the alignment of the body. It can often be caused by a misalignment of the feet (such as an old ankle injury) or from the lower back. We frequently find that our clients have hips that are twisted, tilted or raised on one side. Because your spine is supported by your pelvis, if your hips are not in the correct position your spine will have to compensate, so it can cause problems almost anywhere along your spine, but especially in your lower back or neck. Just as the hips are used to balance the lower body, the shoulders are used to balance the upper body, so if the hips are out often the shoulders will be out as well.

Back and hips very out of alignmentHave a look at the picture to the right- you can see this person's right hip is about one grid square higher than her left, and  because her hips are on an angle, the spine in her lower back starts going up at an angle to the left. It then has to bend back to the right to try and straighten her up. Also look at how her right shoulder is slightly to the left of her right hip, but her left shoulder is way to the left of her left hip. (If you look carefully, you might be able to see how tight the muscles are in her lower back, and in her upper back between her shoulder blades. Her right shoulder is also slightly higher than her left.)

Another possible cause of hip problems is the liver. The liver is on the right side of the body, underneath the lower ribs, and sometimes if the liver gets congested or irritated, the muscles over it can become tight, particularly below the right shoulder blade. (You can see a little of this in the above photo.) This can then pull the right hip up or the right shoulder down, putting the body out of alignment, and could cause lower back, hip, neck or shoulder problems.

So for structural problems,

  • Most muscle or joint pain occurs when the body is out of alignment, and correcting the alignment will often resolve the pain
  • Congestion in the liver can cause a distortion in the body, which may lead to neck, shoulder, back, hip, knee, or sciatic problems
  • There may be other factors that have to be addressed as well, especially inflammation
  • Sometimes there is not much improvement until all of the important causes are addressed
  • Even when there is no more pain, if there are still alignment issues, it is a good idea to have additional treatments to correct these, otherwise the problem will tend to recur

With the right diagnosis and treatment, the majority of back, neck, hip and shoulder problems can become a thing of the past.

The Different Types of Massage

Different types of remedial massage 

The word “massage” might conjure up images of rich women with cucumber on their eyes, but relaxation massage is one small niche; there’s a wide range of massage techniques, for a wide range of health conditions. Here’s a basic guide.

Swedish Massage

This is the most common type of massage, and is characterised by long sweeping strokes, muscle kneading and rolling (like kneading dough), and rhythmic tapping.

Hot Stone Massage

This is fairly self-explanatory; hot stones are placed on the body, and the masseuse may (usually) uses hot stones to massage the body at the same time. This form is very good for releasing tension.

Chair Massage

This is the type of massage you’ll see at events or at kiosks in the mall (sitting face forward in a special chair). The major focus is on your neck and shoulders, and it’s used to get tension out of your upper body.

Deep Tissue/Trigger Point (Remedial) Massage

This type of massage, as the name suggests, applies strong pressure to points that are causing you trouble. It’s not “pleasant”, but you can ask your therapist to adjust the pressure if you’re finding it too much and it’s incredibly important to find a fully trained therapist who you trust (as untrained hands on an injury can make it worse).

Shiatsu Massage

Gentle stretches plus finger pressure are used to improve the flow of energy within the body.

Simple Ways to Help New Parents

 new parents, acupuncture for fertility

When friends or family have just had a baby, it can be hard to know how to help - especially as going around to visit or drop something off might wake them or the baby, or interrupt them when they're too stressed or tired to deal with visitors. Here are some simple ideas that may make the perfect offering for your loved one.

Food deliveries that can sit on the doorstep are ideal - make a laminated sign that they can stick on their door saying "baby and parents sleeping" so people know that it's not a good time to knock or ring the doorbell. Ask that people put the food in an esky or send something that won't go off if it's sitting outside for a few hours (like dry pancake mix, dry pasta and a jar of good vegetable sauce, etc) while parents and baby are unavailable.

Cleaning services can be wonderful for new parents who just don't have the time or energy to clean their house - they may not be comfortable with family or friends scrubbing their toilet, so getting a few people to chip in for a professional cleaner might be the best option. Have them come at a regular time every week or fortnight, so that the new parents are prepared for their arrival.

Similarly, a laundry service can be a wonderful thing - organising for them to just put their clothes somewhere that they can be picked up, and then dropped back off clean, dry and folded. A professional service may, again, be preferable here as they may not be comfortable with family or friends doing their laundry.

Many new mothers suffer various aches, pains and issues after the trauma of giving birth - from issues with bladder control to aching muscles. A voucher to come and see a natural therapies provider who can help them alleviate those symptoms can be a wonderful thing - they can book when they have time and feel up to it, and a little pampering and care for them during this transitional period can make a huge difference.

How to Choose a Good Massage Therapist

Remedial Massage Brisbane

There was an article in the South West News/ Springfield News (24/2/16 edition) about 'dodgy' massage therapists. This topic is of great importance to us, as an entire profession is being tarnished by a small number of unscrupulous or unqualified individuals. We have heard a variety of complaints regarding various massage therapists, ranging from receiving no benefit from a treatment, to worsening their condition, to actual sexual assault. The right remedial massage therapist can make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing, by relieving muscular and structural pain, reducing muscular tension, improving your circulation, and relieving accumulated stress in your body. We strongly recommend that anyone seeking a massage treatment observe the following guidelines.

1. Safe Environment?
Never visit a massage therapist in their home, or in an isolated environment, or have them come to your home, unless you are very sure about them.

2. Are They Qualified?
Ask what their qualifications are, and where they studied. If you have any doubts at all, ask to see their diploma or certificate, which should be on display or easily accessible by them.

3. Are They Registered?
Ask if they are registered with a professional Association, and if their treatments are claimable from health funds. Do not deal with a therapist that isn’t registered with an appropriate professional Association!

4. Are They Professional?
You will need to provide your relevant personal information (such as your full name, date of birth, and contact details), particulars of what you are seeking a massage for, the history of your condition, and any other relevant health information. (For you to be able to claim from your health fund, the therapist must carry out a thorough consultation and assessment prior to your massage, and keep detailed records of your treatment.)

5. Professional Premises?
Do the premises look clean and the staff appear professional in speaking with you? Medibank Private will only allow claims for massage treatments carried out in a ‘clinical’ setting, and not a ‘retail’ setting, such as beauty, relaxation or recreation premises. Are the rooms purpose-built with sound reduction to avoid conversations being overheard, or do they just use curtains? How does their website look? Does it have detailed information about each therapist?

For Therapeutic Massage

If you are looking for a therapeutic massage rather than a relaxation massage, please also ask the following.

6. Experience as a Therapist?
Find out how long they have been practicing. It is also worthwhile asking how long they have been working at their current clinic.

7. Experience with Your Condition?
Don’t be afraid to ask this question. Is this an area that they specialise in, or is it something they rarely treat?

For the Best Possible Treatment

It is good to also check

8. If You are Not Happy?
What will happen if you are not happy with your treatment or results that you obtain? (A highly reputable clinic will provide a refund if you are not satisfied with their work.)

9. Clinic or Home?
There is no selection process for a therapist working from their home, or renting a space in another business. A reputable clinic will be very careful about the quality of the therapists that work from their premises. Also, a clinic will normally be able to keep providing treatments for you if your regular therapist is sick or on holidays. And a professional clinic will usually offer Hicaps services, so that you can claim from your health fund on the spot.

Finally, if you are not happy with anything, please complain to the owner, or speak to the therapist’s Association.

As we mentioned earlier, correctly performed massage treatments can make an enormous difference to your health and the quality of your life. Not only that, they can leave you feeling great!

At Centenary Natural Therapies Clinic, we guarantee to have the best therapists in Brisbane- if you think you have had a better massage anywhere else, we will give you your money back! We have chosen the best possible remedial massage therapists, carefully selected for their skills, knowledge and experience. Each of them is fully qualified, has around 15 years experience, and is a member of a professional Association. If you want to quickly and effectively sort out your muscle stiffness or pain, please book in to see us soon.


Research Confirms Massage Reduces Lower Back Pain

A review of the study 'A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial' published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Treat lower back pain with Brisbane Remedial MassageNon-specific lower back pain is one of the most common muscular-skeletal issues reported by patients/clients seeking pain relief. Massage therapy is recognised in clinical practice as an effective treatment for this condition.


A controlled trial was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr Daniel C. Cherkin and his colleagues at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, compared massage plus usual care to usual care alone in their study of participants, ages 20 to 65 years old (n=401). Study findings, 'suggest that both relaxation massage and structural massage are reasonable treatment options for persons with chronic low back pain.' Participants in the study received 10 weekly treatments at no cost, which consisted of either relaxation massage or structural massage, randomly assigned. Twenty-seven licensed massage practitioners (LMPs), all of whom had a minimum of five years’ experience, received 1.5 days of protocol training and provided massage treatments. The LMPs knew which type of massage they were performing, which they did not disclose with participants. Additionally, participants were provided kinaesthetic exercises to do in the home setting to help relieve their back pain between treatments.


Study findings indicate that “massage therapy improved function and decreased pain more than usual care in patients with uncomplicated chronic lower back pain (LBP) after 10 weeks.” The participants who received massage in addition to usual care reported significantly lower Roland Disability Quotient scores (p=<0.001) and symptom 'bothersomeness' scores (p=<0.001). The beneficial effects of massage lasted at twenty-six weeks (p=0.007) and fifty-two weeks (p=0.049) when measured by the Roland Disability Quotient. Symptom bothersomeness was only significantly reduced at the end of the ten-week trial. The authors note that "massage recipients were more likely than participants in the usual care group to experience clinically meaningful reductions" in functional limitations and low back pain symptoms.

Massage reduced self-reported medication use for LBP (p=0.006), including specifically NSAID use for LBP (p=0.027) at the end of the ten-week trial. Similarly, massage patients were able to decrease absenteeism to work or school caused by their LBP (p=0.018) at the ten-week mark. Patients in the massage group were significantly more likely to be "pleased or delighted if LBP remained at the current level for the rest of life" at the end of the ten-week trial (p=0.007) than patients receiving usual care. In addition, massage patients were significantly more likely (p<0.001) to be “very satisfied with [their] LBP care” at ten weeks, twenty-six weeks and fifty-two weeks.

The researchers report that at this point, there's little evidence of which mechanisms explain the beneficial effects of massage. What can be clearly stated is that this research provides evidence to support the therapeutic benefits of remedial massage Brisbane for managing chronic low back pain.

Participants with improvement

Graphs of Participants with Improvement (by treatment group and time since randomisation)

(A) Percentage of participants improving by at least 3 points on the Roland Disability Questionnaire scale

(B) Percentage of participants improving by at least 2 points on the symptom bothersomeness scale


Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook A J, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo RA. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155:1:1-9,

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  • What is causing the problem, and
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62 Looranah St,
Jindalee QLD 4074
07 3376 6911


Winner Business Achievers Award 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 & 2012
Inducted into Business Achievers Hall of Fame 2009
LPA Outstanding High Achievement Award 2011
Mt Ommaney Small Business Award (Health & Fitness) 2018 & 2020


We help provide care and accommodation to young disabled people through regular support of YoungCare (by donating the proceeds of our Gift Voucher sales)

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