It can be said that sports are a highly popular activity around the world! Most of us, for sure, are fans of a great sports legend or a budding game personality. We love the excitement, the thrill, the energy, and the passion showcased by players in every game. We shout, we scream, and we celebrate with them as they win. We also take the gloomy side of every failure and defeat. However, we should admire what’s really behind the story of every athlete. Despite all the cheers and the greetings, we showered on them are the pains and sacrifices they give to effectively offer their best in every game. They undergo the pain of training, the challenge of strenuous activities, and emotional ups and downs. However, the athletes and their coaches are always looking for effective ways on how to improve their performance in their search for a successful sports career.
Famous Cupping Therapy in the World of Sports
During the 2016 Rio Olympics, not only the triumphs and losses of each country’s athletes made headlines. As a matter of fact, the news about the reddish and purple spots on the bodies of some athletes, especially the famous Michael Phelps, caught the attention of viewers and the media. These athletes had chosen to use an ancient technique to make their bodies ready for their specific games. The technique is known as cupping therapy. After some thorough research and with the help of social media, these athletes are found to be incorporating this kind of therapy with the latest state-of-the-art equipment and techniques to ensure their edge over other competitors.
Looking back on those reddish spots during the Rio Olympics in 2016, those bruises are mainly caused by an ancient Chinese cupping therapy. The process behind cupping is that it stimulates or moves the body's natural energy, which is referred to in Chinese as ‘qi’. Cupping is believed to help increase blood supply to the areas of the body. Moreover, athletes utilize it in their recovery process to help heal sore and tired muscles.
So, what is cupping, by the way?
According to the Mayo Clinic News Network, cupping was one of the newest trends in 2016 for athletes to get ahead in the Olympic competition. It described cupping in the following way:
“Cupping therapy involves heating the air inside a glass cup, which removes some of the air from the cup. The cup is then quickly placed on the skin, and the resulting vacuum pulls the skin partially into the cup, causing a bruise. Some people say they do experience a release in muscle tension afterward, but there's not much research to prove one way or the other.”
The article also mentioned that conclusions about the effects of cupping on the Olympic athletes were difficult. This is because change can be minimal. Medical experts and sources such as Mayo Clinic recommended that if an athlete would like to us cupping therapy, he/she must first consult a specialist or physician who is well-rounded about its possible benefits and side effects.
On the other hand, VeloNews.com also shared how the cupping method is done. It said,
“In cupping, certified practitioners place specialized glass or plastic cups on the skin. Using either heat (on glass) or an air pump (plastic), suction is created within the cup for 10 to 30 minutes, pulling the skin slightly up and away from the underlying muscles. Blood then circulates into the area under the cup, which can aid in muscle health and functionality, clearing out pathogens, and boosting the immune response.”
Despite the hype in 2016, cupping is actually not a new fad since it has been already utilized by people from China and many other countries in the world.
Another article, “What is Cupping Therapy: Here’s What to Know About the Benefits and Risks”, published in MensHealth.com also tackled the promising benefits of cupping for athletes. It is said to be exceptionally beneficial for the conditioning and rehabilitation of athletes before a game and after injuries. Cupping is similar to massage, but instead of pressing down, certain structures of the body are lifted up.
What are the Known Benefits of Cupping for Athletes
Cupping therapy is known and has been proven to bring the following benefits:
#1 It eliminates chronic back pain
#2 It aids in lowering blood pressure
#3 It promotes more effective and faster healing by focusing on specific areas and let the blood flows in good circulation
#4 It helps improve digestion
#5 It contributes to achieving relaxation
#6 It helps increase energy
#7 It improves skin health and also reduces eczema and acne
#8 It eases stiffness due to neuralgia and osteoarthritis
University of St. Augustine for Health and Sciences shared a post entitled, “The Use of Cupping as a Treatment in Athletes”, where the following is mentioned:
“How cupping works to manipulate soft tissue, improve blood flow and promote healing is not exactly known. Explanations are borrowed from other soft tissue techniques and related to fascial research. One thought is the lifting or “unloading” of the tissue via suction allows creep, decompression of the blood vessels, and therefore improved blood flow. Another thought is more mechanical. It is thought that perhaps pulling on tissue manipulates the collagen, which imparts stresses to fibroblasts, and in turn triggers a chain reaction causing the tissues to relax, and perhaps improve blood flow and healing.”
It also mentioned that some people may be wondering if there are possible side effects of cupping. In some cases, bleeding may occur. However, it is very rare. The most common side effects are the bruises or the reddish-purple spots on the specific areas of the body.
Open Mind Modalities Acupuncture stated on one of its published posts the following::
“Most of our patients report experiencing results right away, making this procedure incredibly popular for someone who needs to experience fast pain relief. Keep in mind that this ultimately works to increase circulation so can be used in all areas of the body and once done, the body will experience the benefits of having additional blood flow to the area. Whether that means trying to improve the appearance of skin in that area of the body or working to reduce pain, cupping can be an effective solution. Because of this, some people use cupping to reduce inflammation, address sinus infections or even reduce the appearance of cellulite.”
For some athletes, the cupping technique serves as important preparation for their next game performance. It helps them condition their muscles and stamina.
Famous Athletes Who Tried Cupping to Level Up their Games
#1 Michael Phelps
Evidence of Phelps' enthusiasm for cupping was on display as he swam in a men's 200-meter butterfly heat during the Summer Olympics in Rio.
Source: Article "Michael Phelps' cupping therapy draws Olympic attention - Modern Healthcare
If there’s one guy who made cupping a big headline in the Olympics, it’s the gold medalist Michael Phelps. Spectators feast not only on his prowess but also on the purple-reddish spots all over his body.
Huffpost.com mentioned in one of its articles that Michael Pelps proves that cupping therapy can work effectively, just like other health-conscious celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Lena Dunham. A part of the published article stated:
“But Phelps isn’t the only athlete in Rio with the circular bruises ― several other American Olympians have found healing and relief in this ancient traditional therapy. Though cupping made an appearance at the 2008 Games in Beijing as well, this may be the first time it’s found such wide appeal among the members of Team USA.”
The article also shared the following:
“Cupping may also provide some benefit when it comes to pain. A 2011 study of 7 randomized controlled trials found that people experienced significant pain reduction with cupping compared to typical treatments like pharmaceutical painkillers, antiviral medications or heat pads. But like the 2012 meta-analysis, the researchers for this study also pointed out that most of the trials had a high risk of bias and weak methodology. They also noted that there may be a publishing bias, in that researchers only bother to publish positive results about cupping and other traditional therapies, which doesn’t allow others to examine and assess any possible negative effects.”
Cupping is observed to alleviate muscle soreness and chronic pain. This is one of the top reasons why athletes are loving this traditional medicine technique.
#2 Stephen Curry
Golden State Warrior’ Stephen Curry was reported to use cupping to perform better on his games. A certain article mentioned:
“Cupping and acupuncture can break up adhesions and reduce inflammation that occurs when the body is injured. It transforms stagnation, increases the circulation of qi (energy) and blood and puts in effect a cascade of healing reactions that heal injured tissue, helping to bring function back to the body. Since Curry is smart on and off the court, it is assumed that he would use this time-proven modality to heal faster in order to go on to win the NBA Championship.”
It was later revealed that the Warriors officially hired two acupuncturists to help players stay strong and healthy, especially in the finals.
#3 Alex Naddour
Another athlete, the famous Alex Naddour, was also seen with those purple spots during some of his games. He mentioned that cupping, according to him, is better than any money he has spent on anything else. He also added:
"That's been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy."
Aside from athletes, there are other well-known celebrities who utilized cupping therapy as part of their health and beauty routines. Gwyneth Paltrow, Justin Bieber, Lena Dunham, and Jennnifer Aniston are some of them.
Cupping For Athletes
Luckily you don’t have to be a famous athlete to try out cupping for yourself. Our active body cups are perfect for massaging thighs, the lower back, and calves, which are often sore when physically active. Give it a try today and don’t forget about our live Weekly demonstration as well!
Rave and Rejuvenate
This content is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. The information provided is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a medical professional or physician. Consult your doctor or qualified health professional if you have any health questions. Neither Rave and Rejuvenate nor the writer of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person reading or following the information in this educational content. The statements or efficacy of these products have not been evaluated or confirmed by FDA-approved research.
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