Cupping Therapy for Athletes
Cupping therapy is used to help break up the fascia, remove stagnant blood, toxins, and lactic acid, and elicit better performance from athletes.
First Off: It Looks Worse Than How It Actually Feels
Cupping therapy involves creating a suction within glass cups applied to the skin. A mound of flesh swells under each cup as it pressurizes. Blood then surges into the area under the cup, altering the hemodynamics in the area. This creates better range of motion and better efficiency of movement as blood can be directed to different zones throughout the body.
Cupping therapy is used by physical trainers, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and alternative medicine practitioners. In the case of bodybuilders or other athletes with continued muscle pain, some professionals use cupping as part of a deep tissue massage. The suction from the cup “lifts” the muscle, allowing greater accessibility by removing muscle knots and blockage.
It's like a reverse massage, because instead of pushing down the muscle you’re pulling it up. This helps stretch all the muscles out. Overall, cupping allows for deeper muscle manipulation, stretch, and recovery.
Does Cupping Hurt?
It should not. However, the bruises that come along with cupping are often met with initial shock and a standard line of questioning.
“The bruises do look more intense than what they actually feel like,” Thunder forward Kyle Singler said in a Sports Illustrated interview. “But the benefit from it is really great.”
Mona Dan, founder of Vie Healing in Los Angeles says: “With cupping, we are moving blood from the anterior aspect of the body closer to the surface. With this movement, we are able to get things that have been sitting latent in the body and invigorating flow. We stimulate areas along the paraspinals (around the spine) which hold acupuncture points that directly stimulate organs.” (Source).
“A lot of people say it feels like a deep tissue massage with a feeling of release that lasts for weeks," says Dan. And though, again, you'll likely leave the office with hickey-like circles on your skin (thanks to the suction of blood to the skin's surface), you can expect those to disappear within a few days.”
Does Cupping Work?
With cupping popping up everywhere, would Michael Phelps - with his legacy on the line in Rio, really undergo such a thing if he didn't feel it helped?
Learn more about cupping therapy for athletes and contact Sandy Ziya for more information on cupping, alternative medicine, acupuncture for athletes, endurance running, and marathon coaching.
Some famous athletes who benefit by cupping therapy