Other Subject Area

Physical Therapy and Athletic Training


International Journal of Exercise Science 17(3): 551-564, 2024. Dry cupping is a therapeutic modality proposed to produce a negative pressure, stretching the skin and underlying tissue. This mechanism is said to promote regional blood flow of oxygenated blood and causing a physiological stretch in the tissue, allowing it to elongate and potentially changing skin temperature. The possible effects of the application to the lumbar spine paraspinal muscles, however, has not been thoroughly examined. The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the immediate effects of dry cupping the lumbar paraspinals on lumbar spine range of motion (ROM) and overlying skin temperature. 30 healthy individuals aged 18-30 years completed the study. The dry cupping was placed on the lumbar paraspinal muscles for 10-minutes. Two plastic cups were placed on the bilateral paraspinals muscles at L1 and L5. Lumbar spine flexion ROM and skin temperature were measured pre- and post-intervention. Descriptive statistics and paired sample t-tests were used to analyze the data (p < .05). There was a statistically significant increase in lumbar spine flexion ROM measured with the Sit and Reach Test, t(29) = 12.62 p = 0.001; d = 2.34, and inclinometry, t(29) = 11.10, p = 0.001; d = 3.86, with a large effect size. There was also a statistically significant decrease in the skin temperature of the lumbar spine paraspinals, t(29) = -2.23, p = 0.034; d = 0.75, with a medium effect size, post- intervention. Dry cupping may be an effective strategy to increase lumbar spine ROM and decrease stiffness, promote recovery, and reduce functional limitations. Future research may examine the difference in effectiveness of static compared to dynamic cupping in a symptomatic population.