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Calf, DOMS, Myofascial Cupping, Rehabilitation, ROM, Static Cupping



The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of brief dry cupping on muscle soreness of the gastrocnemius muscle and range of motion (ROM) in the ankle.


Thirty-six participants (age=29±10 yrs, ht=173.8±10.3 cm, wt=75.3±15.9 kg) were randomly assigned to three groups: A (no exercise), B (bilateral heel drops to exhaustion), and C (right unilateral heel drops to exhaustion). Dorsiflexion ROM was assessed bilaterally for all groups. All participants received the cupping protocol on the right gastrocnemius, but C also received it on the left. Dry cupping was applied using four two-inch cups in four quadrants on the calf for 90 seconds. Soreness was reported using a 10-point VAS scale at 24- and 48-hours. Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to examine the effects of cupping on soreness and range of motion, respectively. Alpha was set at 0.05 for all tests.


A significant difference in muscle soreness existed between right (3.58±1.31 VAS) and left (2.83±1.02 VAS) calves for group B at 24 hours (p = 0.029). No other significant differences existed between calves that were and were not cupped (p > 0.05). No significant differences in ROM occurred between any conditions (p > 0.05).


Ninety seconds of dry cupping on the calf may reduce 24-hr muscle soreness after performing heel drops to exhaustion, but has no effect on ROM.

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Originally published as:

Effects of Brief Dry Cupping on Muscle Soreness in the Gastrocnemius Muscle and Flexibility of the Ankle.Asian J Kinesiol. 2021;23(4):3-11. Published online October 31, 2021

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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