The world was introduced to “Cupping” as a practice in the 2016 Olympics, where the tell-tale marks (Purple dots or blotches, giant ‘love bites’, bruises)  were easily visible on elite Olympic athletes that were using the practice to reduce pain and improve performance.  While it may have been little known to the general public, cupping has been around as a form of alternative medicine for thousands of years,

What is Cupping?

Cupping may have originated as early as 3,000 B.C. in China and is now practiced worldwide. The idea has stayed the same, though the technique has evolved. In the most common method, specially designed silicon cups are placed against the skin, and a flame or pump is used to pull out the air inside, creating a vacuum.

Stationary cupping, when the cups are left on the skin for a length of time, can leave rings and circles due to toxins and blood moving to the surface. This process can create some discomfort or pain as it creates a vacuum suctioning up the skin.

The pressure influences the intensity level, however, many describe the sensation as a slight pinch. Some marks can be darker than others, the darker the color the more effective that cupping point was for the client.

Results are immediate and lasting, with the marks and discoloration fading in about a week.

Despite any initial discomfort, many recipients describe cupping as relaxing and therapeutic. The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system allowing, deep relaxation throughout the body.

Does it Work?

Even though the research is quite limited on the effects of cupping on athletes and lifters more folks are starting to use them for recovery. Some athletes report that cupping can be quite uncomfortable during a treatment, but that after a session they’re feeling energized, with pain noticeably diminished and sometimes dramatic range of motion gains for restricted areas. 

It is important to understand, as an athlete that very few things are all good or all bad. Your safety is most important. If you are going to use cupping therapy techniques, make sure that you are with a professional who is experienced in using them.