How Cupping Therapy Can Benefit Athletes Written by: Olivia Frymark

Cupping has been around for centuries but is becoming increasingly popular as a therapy treatment for athletes to ease pain or muscle spasms. The practice of cupping takes place when a provider places special heated cups on an area of the body. The cup’s placement creates a suction where the skin inside of the cup opening is vacuumed and pulled upwards.

The suction is sometimes painful, but the “vacuum” action promotes blood flow to the area and enhances circulation to boost and excel healing processes. Despite the potential for pain, cupping therapy is also known to be used for relaxation benefits. It has been described as feeling like a deep tissue massage once applied because it draws the impurities to the surface of your skin and releases the body’s toxins.

Cupping therapy is a well-known alternative medicine practice. It is known to be a beneficial pain relief treatment for the following conditions:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Headaches and migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Knee pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Soft tissue injuries

Like any treatment or therapy, cupping should be performed by only a trained professional. Many acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, medical doctors and physical therapists have cupping therapy training. The most common cupping application site is the back, but cupping is known to fast-track healing processes on the chest, stomach, buttocks and legs as well.

It is a practice that you may have seen practiced on serious or famous athletes. Most notably, Michael Phelps and the United States swim team members in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The therapy practice is safe and categorized as low risk for having limited side effects. The main one being, hickey-like bruising after the session from all the blood being vacuumed up into a small space for several minutes and causing tiny blood vessels to break under the skin. The bruises can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. But repeated treatments are known to decrease this side effect’s timeline.

Besides the more visual side effect, cupping therapy is known to help performance enhancement in athletes, improve surgical and injury recovery, increase flexibility, and treat inflammatory skin conditions.

If you are interested in learning more about cupping therapy, our massage therapists at Aura Spa can help further talk you through the process. You may even want to schedule a time to try it out at our Logan Circle, U Street and Yards locations!

Take the time to treat your body to the love and care it deserves so you can bounce back quicker and feel better while working out. The inner elite athlete in you won’t regret it!