Olympian gold medalist Michael Phelps got the sporting world talking at the London Olympic games in 2016 when he showed up to his races with purple dots all over his shoulders. These marks are from a ancient chinese practice called cupping.
What is cupping?
"Cupping therapy is simply the placement of glass cups onto the skin on various areas of the body. There are several application methods to cupping, it can be used in a quick and rhythmical fashion in order to stimulate, restore and balance the body and I often use it in conjunction with acupuncture therapy to enhance the treatment. As I have a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) background, in my practice I use it to regulate the flow of Qi".
Who would benefit from cupping?
"Clinically, cupping can benefit an individual of any age group to treat differing conditions from muscle tension to internal diseases."
How could cupping benefit athletes?
"When relating to musculoskeletal issues or sporting injuries the vacuum pressure of cupping can stimulate the blood vessels around joints and surrounding muscles, which indirectly are activated by a response to the stimulation of the subcutaneous capillary vessels. The expansion of the blood vessels, facilitates in the flow of blood and lymph and from a TCM perspective, “removes congested blood or Qi” in order to alleviate pain."
How does cupping work?
"Simply, the physiological mechanisms behind cupping from an TCM perspective has been described as a general purification of blood, by improvement of circulation function, regulating the nervous system and locally removing pain by relaxing stiff muscles as well as internally affecting the bodily tissues and organs.
The western outlook of cupping has been described as acting mainly on increasing local blood circulation to relieve muscle tension by improving the microcirculation, promoting capillary endothelial cell repair and accelerating granulation (new connective tissue) & microscopic blood vessels that form during the healing process) and angiogenesis in the regional tissue (development of new blood vessels).
Cupping treatment should be assessed by the practitioner according to the condition that is being treated in order to determine the frequency of application."