If you have been watching the Rio Summer Olympics this year you may have noticed that some of the athletes (like Michael Phelps) have large bruise colored spots on their skin. It looks kind of like they got into a wrestling match with a giant octopus. The reality is that these athletes have been undergoing a soft tissue therapy called “cupping.”
This technique has been utilized for a long time (centuries even) and is just now gaining popularity and recognition in western minded healthcare. The application of cupping is to essentially generate a suctioning force to help improve physical function and health. With most muscular and soft tissue treatment modalities there is an application of a stretch or of a “negative” pressure through a pressing into the muscle and a massaging of it. Cupping generates a “positive” pressure by pulling the tissues away from the center point of the body. This positive pressure is the suctioning force and is what also will leave those marks on your skin.
The physiological benefit of this treatment method is multifaceted. Cupping helps with improving range of motion in a given region of the body by breaking up scar tissue build up between muscle bellies and between the myodermal layers (muscle and skin). Cupping is also helpful in introducing improved bloodflow to the region being treated. It helps reduce pain in an area by stimulating the tissues responsible for pain suppression.
So how do you know if cupping would help you in the activities that you have to perform in your daily life? The first step is to find a facility (like Lifestyle Chiropractic) that uses this as a treatment modality. Then set up an appointment to speak with the doctors and practitioners about your health goals to determine if this is an appropriate treatment for your case.