The circular bruises you might see on the backs, shoulders, arms, thighs, and other sections of the athletes’ bodies point to the fact that they have been taking cupping therapy. Widely used by many cultures across the world over centuries, cupping as a form of treatment is well known for the many advantages it can give. A non-surgical procedure, cupping can help relieve pain, induce healing, relax muscles, and help athletes recover from the intense workout sessions they subject their bodies to.
First Mention of Cupping Therapy at the Olympics
Evidence of the use of cupping by athletes to help enhance their performance first became known in the Beijing Olympics of 2008. Swimming champion Wan Qun proudly flaunted the circular marks and talked about how this non-invasive therapy helped relieve the pain she felt in the neck, shoulders, and back. This instance was possibly one of the first mentioned usages of the therapy for the free movement of life energy or “qi” inside an athlete’s body.
Recent Uses of Cupping Therapy – Nathan Adrian & Michael Phelps
In the year 2014, Nathan Adrian, the 3-time gold medalist talked about how he used cupping therapy to help him recover from an illness he suffered during the 2013 FINA World Championships. The therapy helped him so well that he was able to compete in the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, ultimately winning the 100 freestyle in 47.36 seconds. Nathan continues to compete in 100m freestyle events representing Team USA. At the 2014 Santa Clara Grand Prix, he clocked a win at 48.1seconds. He believes that the cupping sessions he has been taking for a couple of years now help loosen up his muscles, thus, enabling him to perform so well.
At the 2016 Olympics, you can see Michael Phelps sporting his cupping marks along with many other olympians. It is clear that the popularity of cupping is starting to take hold and the olympics are a great way to showcase new age world class athletes using ancient health practices to improve their performance.
Athletes from the Gustavus Adolphus College (GAC)
Aside from athletes, their trainers are now beginning to believe in the positives of the therapy. They regularly recommend that the sportspeople under their care take the sessions as needed. To quote the Gustavus head coach, Jon Carlson, “One advantage that cupping has over other methods is that it’s one of very few treatments that are de-compressive, rather than compressive, in nature.”
He talks about how the program was experimental at first. However, seeing the great results and the swimmers feedback, the therapy is being used more extensively. In the 2015 Jean Freeman Invitational in December, athletes from the GAC showed off their cupping marks much to the surprise of viewers. Some of the top competitors to use it are Nathan Adrian, Natalie Coughlin, and Kayla Hutsell, among others from Cal Aquatics.
How Cupping Therapy Helps Athletes
Athletes conduct intensive training that results in micro tears in their muscle tissues and fibers. During the recovery period, as the muscles heal themselves, they develop strength and stamina. For this reason, trainers focus on assisting the body to heal in the best ways possible. When cupping therapy is used, the suction created by the cups helps to tug on even the tightest muscles. As the fascia stretches and the cupping vacuum works to tug the skin off the bone and muscle, the area receives a fresh supply of blood that is rich with oxygen and nutrients. This fresh infusion helps the muscles heal faster and better.
Testimonies from Athletes
Athletes that opt for this therapy talk about how the session feels just like someone is pinching various sections on the back. While there is some amount of discomfort felt, that happens because of the blood capillaries breaking under the skin. Each cup is placed for about five minutes and leaves behind a circular bruise. Hutsell says that the release she experiences is well worth the slight discomfort. She relates how impressed she is with the effects of cupping. The therapy helps the recovery process in areas on her back that have tight knots. Each session relieves the pain she feels and alleviates it for about eight hours. Hutsell tells you not to be concerned about the bruising and that it is not painful at all. She might even like to pass off the marks as a “fashion statement.”
Dani Klunk has been facing various problems and the cupping therapy she receives helps ease the pain and other symptoms. Thanks to this noninvasive strategy, she can continue to train and run intensively. Without this assistance, she would not have been able to keep up with her training regimen.
Why Trainers Recommend Cupping
Carlson at the GAC relates how trainers are always looking for newer methods that can help their athletes recover and perform well. They like to offer a range of options that the sportspeople they work with can use. Carlson says that among the many treatment options, many athletes have found cupping to be highly therapeutic and that it helps them give their best performances possible.
What Responds Well to Cupping Therapy
Athletes with a range of problems can look to cupping therapy for relief. For instance, in cases of plantar fasciitis, many sportspeople have talked about how conventional methods of treatment like cortisone injections and night splints did not give them much relief. However when these methods were combined with cupping treatments, they found that the pain and tightness in the muscles was much improved. Further, athletes that have developed iliotibial band (ITB) and hamstring issues found that cupping helped ease the pain to quite an extent. During the course of their training, typically athletes tend to develop adhesions in their leg muscles. All of these can be easily helped with the use of gliding cupping or massage cupping, yet another form of cupping therapy.
All this information together suggests that cupping is increasingly being recognized as a recovery powerful tool in the world of athletics. It can not only help athletes repair their muscles after the strenuous training they go through, but it can help with the pain they feel so that they can train longer and harder and give great performances.
1. https://www.swimmingwo rldmagazine.com/news/cupping-therapy/
2. http://www.dailymail.co.u k/news/article-1041370/The-price-Gold-Chinese-athletes-left-huge-spots-cupping-therapy-quest-Olympic-glory.html
3. https://swimswam.co m/olympic-champ-nathan-adrian-explains-ancient-art-cupping-gold-medal-minute-video/
4. https://www.yo utube.com/watch?v=mQ2qmPTZFqA
5. http://breaking muscle.com/health-medicine/cupping-and-the-injured-athlete-does-it-work