Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis and Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Kinesiology and Recreation

First Advisor

Noelle M. Selkow


Context: The iliotibial band (ITB) is a muscle-like structure on the outside of the thigh and plays a vital role in movement and can become tight if overused. This tightness can lead to a wide array of injuries in an otherwise healthy individual. Previous research has proved the need to treat a tight ITB, but techniques previously researched have not proven to be effective in reducing ITB tightness. Dry cupping is a method in which suction is generated from a vacuum-sealed cup using a pump in order to alleviate pain, reduce tightness, and promote healing. Recently, cupping has been used as a therapeutic treatment to relieve muscular tightness. Currently, there is no research on the effectiveness of dry cupping in relieving lower extremity tightness, particularly ITB tightness

Objective: To determine if dry cupping is an effective treatment intervention in releasing ITB tightness and increasing hip and knee range of motion in a physically active population.

Design: Controlled laboratory study with randomization and clinician and participant blindness.

Setting: Athletic Training Laboratory

Patients or Other Participants: Forty healthy participants (17 males, 23 females; age: 21 ± 1.8 years; height: 170.94 ± 10.81 cm; weight: 74.20 ± 13.67 kg) with ITB tightness as determined by a positive Ober’s test (-12.79 ± 6.86 degrees). Participants were excluded if there was current pain and/or injury to the leg in the past year, had an intervention for ITB tightness in the past three months, blood flow dysfunctions, hemorrhagic disorders, cancer, or a possibility of pregnancy.

Intervention(s): Dry cupping or sham cupping. Participants were placed in a side-lying position with pillow between slightly bent knees. Four stationary cups were placed along the ITB for seven minutes. Cup placement was determined based off a scanning technique used to identify areas with adhesions.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Angle of hip adduction achieved during Ober’s test, active and passive hip flexion, and active and passive knee flexion.

Results: There were no significant differences between groups for any measure (p >.305). However, after running effect sizes between groups for immediate post and 24 hours after intervention, some variables had strong effects, namely Ober’s (immediate post: -.66 (-1.3- -.03); 24-hours post: -.67 (-1.3- -.03)) and active and passive hip flexion (active 24-hours post: .67 (.03- 1.3); passive 24-hours post: .66 (.02- 1.29)).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that a single intervention of dry cupping is probably effective in reducing ITB tightness and increasing hip flexion ranges of motion. These changes can be observed 24 hours post intervention in addition to immediately after the intervention. This study supports the assumption that dry cupping may be a safe and effective treatment option to combat ITB tightness seen by clinicians.


Imported from ProQuest Biehl_ilstu_0092N_10941.pdf


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