Cupping Therapy for Athletes

WHAT IS CUPPING THERAPY-

 

Everyone Should Try Cupping-

Athletes use cupping as a secret weapon.

Michael Phelps of the US and Wang Qun, a Chinese swimmer proudly showed off their marks during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Always looking for methods to naturally improve health and performance, more athletes have turned to cupping. Tennis ace Andy Murray said he used cupping in conjunction with other treatments to relieve stiffness and to help address a back injury.

Mets baseball players have also adopted the treatment. In August The Wall Street Journal reported on the multitude of Mets players using cupping. The trend started for them after their teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka appeared in the locker room with cupping marks. The 33-year-old started cupping about two years ago and was quoted in WSJ saying, “As an athlete, I want to play as long as possible, in order to do that, I need to find ways to protect my body. I’m always looking for something that might be better.”

Michael Phelps uses cupping

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Cupping: The newest trend for Rio Olympics athletes

 

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But cupping is not just for athletes and movie stars… cupping is highly beneficial for everyone.

 

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For many of us, the new year is a traditional time to set goals and enjoy an increased openness to new experiences. This willingness presents an opportunity to explore the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Better health is on everyone’s list for the new year and cupping is wonderful technique that can improve your health and provide numerous benefits.

One way to think about cupping is that it is the inverse of massage. Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull skin, tissue and muscles upward. I often combine cupping with acupuncture into one treatment, but it could also be used alone.

Cupping was developed thousands of years ago and though the techniques have modernized, the original philosophy remains the same.

Cupping involves placing glass, bamboo or plastic jars on the skin and creating a vacuum by suctioning out the air. The underlying tissue is raised, or sucked, partway into the cup. The purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove “heat” and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.

You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Often, this sensation is relaxing and soothing. Depending on your comfort and your practitioner’s assessment of the problem, cups may be moved around or left in place. They may remain on your body briefly or for longer amounts of time. Each treatment is unique to you on that particular day. One very common area to be cupped is the back, although cups work well on other areas, too — particularly on fleshy sections of the body.

Cupping causes the skin to temporarily turn red, blue or purple, especially if there is an injury or energetic blockage under the area that was cupped. The skin discoloration can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, but is rarely painful. Once the marks have cleared, the procedure can be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.

There are a number of methods of cupping — the two most common here in the U.S. are “fixed cupping” and “moving cupping.”

As the name implies, in this method your practitioner applies massage oil or cream on your skin in selected places, puts the cups over the areas to be treated and then slides them around that region of the body — most commonly the back. The cups slide easily because the cream has lubricated your body.

You ought to consider exploring the benefits of cupping if you seek relief from stress, pain, allergies, fatigue, flu, colds, back pain, anxiety, muscle aches, red itchy skin conditions or fever.

 

Cupping provides relief for many health conditions.

Cupping has numerous benefits — it can help remove toxins from the body and stimulate the flow of fresh blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area and throughout the body. It often works wonders for patients with the flu, colds, coughs, back and muscle pain, poor circulation, anxiety, red itchy skin conditions (though cups are not applied to inflamed areas), allergies, fevers, aches and myriad other pains.

Cupping is not exclusive to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Variations of this treatment were used by ancient Egyptians, North American Indians, early Greeks, and in other Asian and European countries. Cupping therapy was recommended by Hippocrates, the man whom many consider to be the “Father of Modern Medicine,” in his guide to clinical treatment.

It should be noted that cupping is not be used on patients who bleed easily and/or cannot stop bleeding, have skin ulcers, or edema. It is unwise to cup over large blood vessels as well. Pregnant women should be cupped with extreme caution and never on their abdomen or lower back.

To be cautious I generally practice a less intense treatment the first time, and then see how the patient reacts before implementing longer amounts of time and more suction.

Fixed Cupping:

The cups are placed on a selected area of your body and then left in place without being moved.

Moving Cupping:

As the name implies, in this method your practitioner applies massage oil or cream on your skin in selected places, puts the cups over the areas to be treated and then slides them around that region of the body — most commonly the back. The cups slide easily because the cream has lubricated your body.

You ought to consider exploring the benefits of cupping if you seek relief from stress, pain, allergies, fatigue, flu, colds, back pain, anxiety, muscle aches, red itchy skin conditions or fever.

What does cupping do to your body?

Cupping and acupuncture are similar because they both promote optimal “Qi” by drawing energy and blood flow to areas of the body that are experiencing inflammation, prone to low lymphatic circulation or experiencing poor blood flow.

How long does it take for cupping bruises to go away?

The color and pattern of the marks depend on the level of stagnation in the area. If marks do appear, they can range from a bright red to dark purple, usually lasting 3 days to a week – sometimes longer if the person is very sick or sedentary.

What is Chinese cupping therapy?

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), cupping is a method of creating a vacuum on the patient’s skin to dispel stagnation (stagnant blood and lymph), thereby improving qi flow, in order to treat respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis.

What are the benefits of cupping?

The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite.

Dry cupping

The cupping procedure commonly involves creating a small area of low air pressure next to the skin. However, there are varieties in the tools used, the methods of creating the low pressure, and the procedures followed during the treatment.

The cups can be of various shapes including balls or bells, and may range in size from 1 to 3 inches (25 to 76 mm) across the opening. Plastic and glass are the most common materials used today, replacing the horn, pottery, bronze and bamboo cups used in earlier times. The low air pressure required may be created by heating the cup or the air inside it with an open flame or a bath in hot scented oils, then placing it against the skin. As the air inside the cup cools, it contracts and draws the skin slightly inside. More recently, vacuum is created with a mechanical suction pump acting through a valve located at the top of the cup. Rubber cups are also available that squeeze the air out and adapt to uneven or bony surfaces.

In practice, cups are normally used only on softer tissue that can form a good seal with the edge of the cup. They may be used singly or with many to cover a larger area. They may be used by themselves or placed over an acupuncture needle. Skin may be lubricated, allowing the cup to move across the skin slowly.

Skin markings are common after the cups are removed, varying from simple red rings that disappear relatively quickly, to discolourisation from bruising, especially if the cups are dragged while suctioned from one place to another, ostensibly to break down muscle fiber. Usually treatments are not very painful.

 

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.

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