Cupping therapy has always been the centre of attraction for researchers and health practitioners, but a few years back, therapy found its way to the athletic world due to its various purported properties.
Hijama caught the world by storm when Gold-medallist USA swimmer Michael Phelps was seen with strange purple circles on his body in Olympics (Rio 2016). Later, another well-known gymnast Alex Naddour, a professional swimmer Nathalie Coughlin, and a silver-medallist Australian Olympic swimmer Kyle Chalmers (Tokyo 2021), were seen with similar marks.
Athletes have found it highly supportive in the maintenance of overall physical health. Cupping is known to cut down inflammation by improving the circulation system and strengthening immunity which supports a healthier body. Well, the benefits of cupping for athletes can be diverse!
Quite recently, Dwayne The Rock Johnson has acknowledged cupping’s benefits and enjoyed his first experience. In fact, he shared an Instagram post (his image of the back with reddish-purple round cupping marks) with the followers to promote hijama, saying, ‘Looks more gnarly than it feels, but overall I enjoyed the therapy.’
Why do Athletes Choose Cupping Therapy as an Alternative Therapy?
The TCM quote can fairly explain the principle function of cupping: “不通则痛，通则不痛” – “Where there’s stagnation, there will be a pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.”
The British Cupping Society explained the working of cupping through 4 theories:
- Pain gate theory- cups stimulate neurons (through heat and suction) capable of blocking pain signals sent to excited pain nerve fibres, ultimately reducing pain.
- Detox theory - aids in restoring homeostasis by relieving the body from blockings caused due to poor blood flow.
- Immune system activation theory - encourages natural killer cells and cytokines production, consequently promoting anti-inflammatory actions.
- Muscle relaxation theory - alleviates muscle tension through vasodilation and pumped up parasympathetic nervous activity.
Professional athletes and athletic trainers have turned to cupping, considering it a practical approach to treat sports-related injuries and health conditions. It is a favourable treatment to get rid of muscular discomfort and strains, ease the pain after strenuous physical exertion, keep joints smooth and flexible, reduce swelling, and lessen the muscle recovery time to heal after surgery or injury.
Besides improving functional recovery, cupping plays an essential role in maintaining soft tissue health. Due to strong belief in this ancient Chinese therapy, Olympic performers usually benefit themselves with hijama before contending. Consider it a brilliant non-invasive treatment to assist athletes in recovering faster and bringing noticeable improvements in physical performance as well as endurance.
It lifts the muscles and tissues off the bones, welcoming oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood and lymphatic fluid. Simply put, it works by separating the layers of muscle from tissue with firm yet gentle force, paving a clear pathway for fresh bloodstream.
How Does Cupping Work for Athletes?
Athletes and cupping make good partners. If professional athletes give cupping a chance, they can get several advantages, primarily the following:
- Better management of blood pressure as it can help maintain lower blood pressure
- Helping to get rid of or lessen chronic back pain
- Plays a significant role in aligning and stimulating the blood flow of specific areas
- May change your skin’s biomechanical properties for better outcomes
- Relax muscular stiffness and improves flexibility
- Boosts stamina and physical performance
- Offers a massage-like effect to ease muscle soreness
- Cupping eliminates the inflammatory factors, lessening inflammation by modifying the immune system.
- Increases pain thresholds, making the athlete tolerate pains and injuries
- Enhances local anaerobic metabolism to give you a boost of energy
- May help treat skin problems, such as dermatitis or eczema, found in swimmers
- Fortifies cellular immunity.
- Improved muscular regeneration
- Supports improved and smooth digestion, ultimately increasing metabolic rate
Whether you need a supportive treatment for athletic conditioning or rehabilitation from the discomfort of compression, cupping helps!
Injuries caused while strenuous training is widespread (plantar fasciitis, hamstring strains, sore muscles, back pain). Moreover, an intensive workout can lead to unnecessary accumulation of calcium, uric acid, and lactic acid in the muscles up to dangerous levels. Cupping can significantly trigger the chemical breakdown of body toxins, offering battered muscles and tissues a swift rebuilding. Else, the person can experience muscle dysfunction.
Now, the practitioners have improved their cupping techniques, making them more valuable for top athletes with specific injuries. Cupping following surgical procedures may help the body heal more efficiently and quicker as they increase the blood and lymphatic circulation towards affected areas, along with helping form new tissues and blood vessels.
Effective in Treating Pain
One study explained that individuals with chronic neck pain experienced reduced functional disability and intensity of pain, along with showing positive signs of improved physical quality of life after they received cupping therapy. Coming to chronic back pain, cupping has a more positive impact, letting the sufferers go through less intense lower back and cervical pain.
Moreover, Kim et al. equated the effects of cupping therapy to heating pads, announcing therapy as a winner as more effective in reducing neck pain and improving its function within 3-7 weeks of treatment.
Release Muscular Tension
What does cupping therapy do for athletes?
If the athletes are feeling uncomfortable due to muscle tension, restricted muscle and joint movements, myofascial or connective tissue stiffness, and muscular pain, suction cup treatment for athletes can help relieve such symptoms. Hijama dilates blood vessels and small capillaries, increasing the tissue blood flow to prompt muscle relaxation.
Suction cups therapy for athletes helps keep the fascia lubricated to ensure smoother, more efficient muscle movement. It increases muscular flexibility and joint mobility, which aids the field teams in training longer and harder.
Cupping therapy benefits for athletes include the elimination of toxic, health-deteriorating metals from your blood to reduce toxicity levels. As explained in a 2018 study, the levels of aluminium, cadmium, and zinc can be decreased with wet cupping treatment.
Best Cupping Equipment
Whether you need silicon or glass fire vacuum cups for suction, blades or IASTM tools being a professional practitioner, vacuum pumps or tube extensions for DIY – Nature’s Blends has an extensive collection of Cupping Sets & Hijama equipment.
Top-quality materials are used for manufacturing disposable aprons, cups, and blades. You can buy the best cupping set for athletes – basic, standard, and premium.