The 2016 Summer Olympics are currently underway, and many viewers have been quick to notice a handful of U.S. athletes sporting red and purple spots on various parts of their bodies. The marks are a result of cupping, an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that helps alleviate problems such as headaches, dizziness, swelling, muscle pain, and abdominal discomfort. For top-notch athletes like Michael Phelps and Alexander Naddour, the alternative therapy is believed to improve flexibility, increase mobility, and relieve muscle pain.
How cupping works
The practice of cupping, also known as thermo-cupping or thermo-therapy involves a cup or a jar — usually made of glass — and a flammable substance such as alcohol, used to heat the cup while on the skin. Suction is produced when the flame dies, pulling the skin upward as the air inside the cup cools. The suction portion of the session typically lasts between five and ten minutes and is believed to help open up pores in the affected area, stimulating the flow of blood and clearing an internal path for the withdrawal of toxins in the body. For elite athletes, this practice may help promote quicker healing and muscle repair after vigorous workouts and competitions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers other remedies also
Another form of TCM that many Olympic athletes turn to is acupuncture, a practice that involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific pressure points on the body to alleviate pain. The ancient therapy gained popularity following the 2012 London Olympics after many athletes nationwide claimed the technique allowed them to achieve a higher level of athletic performance. Olympic sprinter Dee Dee Trotter credited daily acupuncture routines as part of her preparation and training that helped her win a bronze medal in the 400-meter run at the London Olympic Games. Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris credited the homeopathic remedy in helping him win a bronze medal in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Cupping is not just for athletes
Maintaining peak physical condition is essential for athletes of all types, from those training for their first marathon to those competing at the Olympic level. Holistic therapies such as cupping and acupuncture may be the extra measure needed to earn a spot on the podium or capture that coveted PR. Anyone looking for relief from chronic pain, stress, pain, fatigue, anxiety, muscle aches, or general feelings of discomfort may find success in receiving acupuncture or cupping treatments.
To learn more about cupping or acupuncture, or to set up a consultation, contact us today!