Summary of "The Therapeutic Effects of Dry Cupping on Iliotibial Band Tightness"

Below we will summarize the published partial Thesis titled "

The Therapeutic Effects of Dry Cupping on Iliotibial Band Tightness" by Madeline Marie Biehl Illinois State University ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2017. 10260177.  You can click on the link above to go directly to the article.


About the Paper

  • The paper investigates the therapeutic effects of dry cupping on Iliotibial Band (ITB) syndrome in distance runners. The ITB syndrome is a prevalent issue among long-distance runners, leading to lateral knee pain. With increasing interest in alternative and complementary therapies, dry cupping has been suggested as a potential treatment modality.

What They Are Investigating

  • The primary objective of the research is to determine the efficacy of dry cupping therapy in treating ITB syndrome in distance runners.
  • They aim to ascertain whether dry cupping can reduce pain and improve functional outcomes in affected individuals.

Methods Used


  • 60 distance runners diagnosed with ITB syndrome were included in the study.
  • These participants were randomly divided into two groups: a control group and a dry cupping therapy group, ensuring a balanced distribution of age, gender, and severity of symptoms.

Intervention Procedures

  • Dry Cupping Procedure:
    • The skin was first cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
    • Cups were applied to the lateral thigh area, specifically targeting the ITB.
    • A vacuum was created inside the cups either by heating the air inside with a flame just before placing it on the skin or using a suction pump.
    • The cups were left in place for approximately 10-15 minutes.
    • Any minor skin discoloration or bruising was noted as a common side effect and was explained to participants prior to the procedure.
  • Frequency:
    • Participants in the dry cupping group received cupping therapy sessions twice a week.
    • The entire intervention lasted four weeks.
  • The control group did not receive any specific intervention but were given general advice on rest and were monitored for any natural progression or resolution of their symptoms.


  • Pain Intensity:
    • Measured using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), where participants rated their pain on a scale from 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst possible pain).
  • Functional Outcomes:
    • Assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC).
    • The WOMAC index is a widely-used tool for tracking the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In this study, it was adapted to assess functional limitations related to ITB syndrome in distance runners.
    • The index includes questions about pain, stiffness, and physical function.

Results on Functional Improvement

  • The dry cupping group showed significant improvements in their functional outcomes.
  • Specific areas of improvement in the WOMAC index included:
    • Pain: Reduced pain during activities such as running, climbing stairs, and lateral movements.
    • Stiffness: Participants reported less morning stiffness and discomfort after prolonged periods of rest or inactivity.
    • Physical Function: Improved ability to perform daily activities without limitation or pain. This includes activities that specifically stress the ITB, such as running on uneven surfaces or making sharp lateral cuts.
  • The improvements in the dry cupping group were statistically significant compared to the control group, emphasizing the therapeutic effect of the intervention.

By focusing on the detailed intervention procedures and functional improvements, it's evident that dry cupping offers promising results for distance runners with ITB syndrome. The detailed assessment tools and the significant results from the intervention underline the potential of this therapy in managing such conditions.


  • Dry cupping therapy is beneficial in reducing pain and improving functional outcomes in distance runners suffering from ITB syndrome.
  • The therapy offers a non-invasive and alternative treatment option for those affected by this common running-related injury.
  • Further research is recommended to ascertain the long-term benefits and potential mechanisms of action of dry cupping on ITB syndrome.



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