Why Olympic Athletes Use Cupping

cupping on the upper back

The sight of Michael Phelps, at the 2016 Rio Olympics, with circular bruises on his shoulders not only showcased his remarkable athletic prowess but also ignited a global fascination with cupping therapy. This ancient technique, marked by its distinctive bruising, has since become a phenomenon in the world of sports and wellness. What I call the “Olympic cupping craze.”

Understanding Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is an age-old practice that originated in Asia and has been utilized for thousands of years. Initially performed with wooden bamboo cups, the technique has evolved, with practitioners now opting for glass or plastic cups. The process involves creating a vacuum within these cups, which are then placed on the skin. This suction pulls the skin, connective tissue, and muscle upwards, resulting in the well-known cupping marks. 

The technique can vary depending on your health concern. Dry cupping, where the suction is the main focus or if an oil is applied to the skin, the cups may be moved around on the muscles.  Wet cupping, which involves a small prick with an acupuncture needle followed by cupping to draw out small quantities of blood which helps increase circulation, decrease inflammation and remove toxins from the body.

Why Cupping Captivates Athletes and Enthusiasts?

Cupping’s allure lies in its multifaceted benefits, especially for athletes, sport enthusiasts, and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions like back or neck pain. 

Here’s why:

Pain and Soreness Relief: Cupping is renowned for alleviating pain, soreness, stiffness, and immobility. The suction created helps relax muscles and alleviate discomfort, making it a preferred choice for those engaged in rigorous physical activities.

Reduction of Inflammation: Post-workout inflammation can lead to prolonged recovery periods. Cupping has been shown to effectively reduce inflammation, speeding up the recovery process and enhancing athletic performance.

Healing of Acute Injuries: For injuries that result in inflammation, cupping can initiate the healing process by reducing swelling and promoting recovery.

Cupping Beyond Sports

Cupping therapy isn’t just for athletes. It’s also used by a wide range of individuals seeking relief from various conditions such as stress relief, fibromyalgia, migraines, and even skin issues like facial rejuvenation and acne. The therapy’s ability to promote blood flow and facilitate healing makes it a versatile tool for overall wellness.

Feel Better, Get Cupping!

The visual impact of cupping marks on celebrated athletes like Michael Phelps has significantly contributed to the therapy’s popularity, bridging ancient healing practices with contemporary sports science. Its widespread adoption among Olympic athletes and beyond speaks to a collective quest for recovery methods that encompass both physical and psychological well-being. Whether utilized for recovery, pain management, or aesthetic improvement, cupping therapy is a wonderful method to help you in the pursuit of your health and fitness goals.

Joseph Alban

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.

Joseph Alban is a Doctor of Acupuncture, New York Licensed Acupuncturist, and NCCAOM Board Certified Herbalist providing the highest quality Acupuncture and Chinese medicine care tailored to your needs.

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