Want to know one of the secrets that helped American swimmer Michael Phelps to win 19 Olympic Gold Medals?
You might remember that, in the 2012 London Olympics, some of the swimmers had large, round marks on their backs. No, it wasn’t the result of a team argument, a nasty fall, or falling asleep on their medals. It was the result of an ancient Chinese method called ‘cupping,’ which has since shot to fame. Now, athletes like superstar fighter Floyd Mayweather and tennis player Andy Murray have also been using the technique to speed recovery and to improve their performance the natural and legal way.
What is cupping?
Cupping is traditionally an ancient Chinese technique, but it also has roots in Middle Eastern and Egyptian cultures. Cupping involves, as the name suggests, the use of cups which gently heated and then placed onto the surface of the skin. As the hot air cools inside the cups, it creates a suction effect and draws the skin and soft tissue inside it. This negative pressure crated by the vacuum effect of the cups stimulates the acupressure point it is placed over, which increases qi energy to the area and encourages circulation.
What are the benefits of cupping for athletes?
One of the most important parts of any athlete’s regime is recovery! However, when on a strict training schedule, sometimes is can be hard to find time to allow the muscles to recover completely. Cupping brings toxins and waste (lactic acid build-up from intense exercise for example) to the surface, where the lymphatic system can transport the waste to be expelled from the body. For this reason, cupping significantly increases motion within the muscle, blood flow, qi flow and the efficiency of the lymphatic system. This facilitates a faster immune response to injury and a shortened recovery period.
Other benefits of cupping include:
- Loosening the muscles
- Ridding the body of waste
- Minimising pain and tension
- Detoxifying the cells
- Rebalancing qi
- Loosening adhesions
- Increasing blood and lymph flow to stagnant skin and muscles
- Releasing rigid soft tissues
What are the round marks on the athletes?
The suction effect is usually strong enough to cause a haematoma, which is generally much more profound in appearance than a regular bruise. As the cups are round, the subsequent marks are too, which, when there a multiple in a line, can look a little strange and was the cause of many headlines during the 2012 Olympic games. These marks generally disappear within a week, are a normal part of the treatment and will not do any lasting damage.
If you are nervous about the pain, or the marks, there are options that use a weaker suctioning action, or smaller cups. The pulling action of the cups can trigger a reaction in the parasympathetic nervous system, which can evoke a sense of deep relaxation and can assist with masking any discomfort. This is also an important part for athletes when considering a full recovery; giving their mind a chance to slow down as well.
For more information on how cupping can help your body, or to book an appointment, please contact our friendly team on 5679 3513.