If you recall back to the Rio Olympics, Michael Phelps and other athletes were turning up at events with their backs covered in red dots. There was a lot of media about it which introduced the ancient Chinese medical practice of cupping to a lot of people.
What is Cupping?
Cupping uses suction to pull blood out of small blood vessels into the surrounding tissue. It is a form of light bruising, which creates the red dots that you see on people who have been cupped. The slight bruising causes an inflammatory response by the body to increase blood flow to the area of cupping. The increased blood flow bring all of the good things the body needs to repair the area and bring it back to normal. Note: the bruising is only temporary.
So it a nutshell, cupping triggers the body’s natural healing abilities.
Why Do Athletes Get Cupping?
Cupping is used for both injuries and recovery.
The increased blood flow created by cupping increases natural opioids (such as endorphins and enkephalins) to reduce pain and relax the muscles and increases white blood cells, macrophages and collagen production to repair the injury.
For recovery from intense exercise, the increased blood flow from cupping help the body repair any minor muscle tears and damage and it also helps clear away toxins and reoxygenate muscles to be ready to perform again.
Is Regular Cupping Safe?
Cupping is a very low-risk therapy and regular cupping is absolutely fine. Cupping should not be done on bony parts of the body or on the front of the neck or face and not on people who bleed very easily due to blood disorders or medications like Warfarin. Most cupping is done on fleshy areas of the body including the back, gluteals, legs and arms. You should also avoid cupping obvious area of your body if you have any big night’s out planned in the next 5-7 days and don’t want to sport the little red dots!
What’s Involved in a Cupping Session?
- The practitioner will assess you.
- You’ll expose the area to be cupped (e.g. your back) and lay down on a bench for comfort.
- The practitioner will apply the cups – adjusting the level of suction to suit the treatment and the patient.
- The cups will stay on for a period from 3 to 10 minutes.
- The practitioner will remove the cups.
As you can see, cupping is a quick, very effective therapy to help sports people recover and prepare to perform to their best. Cupping is also used alongside acupuncture in melbourne.