Immediate and Delayed Effects of Cupping Therapy on Reducing Neuromuscular Fatigue

Xiao Hou, Xiaoling Wang, Lisa Griffin, Fuyuan Liao, Joseph Peters, Yih Kuen Jan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cupping therapy has been popular in elite athletes in recent years. However, the effect of cupping therapy on reducing muscle fatigue has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to investigate the immediate and delayed effects of cupping therapy on reducing biceps brachii fatigue during biceps curls. Twelve healthy untrained participants were recruited for this repeated-measures study. Cupping therapy (–300 mmHg pressure for 5 min) and sham control (no negative pressure for 5 min) were applied after biceps fatigue induced by performing repeated biceps curls at 75% of the 10 repetitions of maximum of the non-dominant hand. Surface electromyography (EMG) with spectral analyses [mean frequency (MNF), median frequency (MDF), and spectral moments ratio (SMR)] were used to assess muscle fatigue during the fatigue task. EMG signals during the first 10 repetitions and the last 10 repetitions of biceps curls were used to assess neuromuscular fatigue. There were significant decreases in MNF and MDF and a significant increase in SMR immediately and 24 h after the sham control (no intervention). When comparing the MNF, MDF, and SMR after cupping therapy to the sham control, there was no significant immediate effect on reducing muscle fatigue. However, there was a significant delayed effect on improving recovery following fatigue for the cupping therapy compared to the sham control (MNF changes: sham 0.87 ± 0.02 vs. cupping 0.91 ± 0.02, p < 0.05; MDF changes sham: 0.85 ± 0.03 vs. cupping: 0.91 ± 0.02, p < 0.05; SMR changes: sham 1.89 ± 0.15 vs. cupping 1.58 ± 0.13, p < 0.05). The findings of this study demonstrate that there is a time effect of cupping therapy for reducing muscle fatigue. Cupping therapy is effective on reducing biceps brachii muscle fatigue after 24 h.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number678153
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • cupping therapy
  • delayed effect
  • electromyography
  • immediate effect
  • muscle fatigue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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