Watch: What You Need to Know About Cupping


During the 2016 Summer Olympics, everyone was talking about cupping, an ancient recovery practice embraced by athletes of all seasons. But what is it? We asked Howard Chen, MD, medical director of Integrative Medicine at Renown Health, for the breakdown on what you need to know about cupping to recover like an Olympian.

While watching the 2016 Summer Olympics, many spectators saw the results of cupping for the first time. Ever since, calls have been coming in to Renown’s Medical Acupuncture office about cupping therapy — an ancient form of alternative medicine in which cups are applied to the skin to create suction and relieve pain.

Howard Chen, MD, Medical Director of Integrative Medicine says that controlled trials have shown that cupping can be useful for neck and back pain, as well as knee and osteoarthritis.

“Cupping helps to separate the layer between the skin and the muscles. It helps to stretch the fascia,” Dr. Chen explains. “And when it does that, it stimulates the nerves and those nerves help to block the pain.” 

RELATED:  Watch: Is Ear Acupuncture the Answer to Your Pain?

Cupping patient Tom Reardon learned about cupping while watching U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps — who uses cupping for recovery — and decided to try it out.

“I think therapeutically or maybe for sports injury it’s a therapy or procedure to try and use,” Reardon says.

For more information about cupping and other alternative treatments, call Renown Medical Acupuncture at 775-982-8255.


  1. Hi, Im a long distance mountain trail runner and to help address occasional knee pain and help break down the facia and loosen the IT band, I was wondering if cupping could be used. - Particularly for loosening the IT band? Thank you, Kim DeMattei BSN
    • Hi Kim! Thanks for reading. We asked Dr. Chen if cupping could be used to to loosen the IT band. Here is his response: "Cupping can certainly be used to loosen the IT band and help it to heal." To book an appointment, please contact Renown Medical Acupuncture at 775-982-8255. In good health, Roseann