If you’ve watched the Olympics, you may have seen some athletes such as Michael Phelps with strange bruises all over their bodies.
No, he didn’t wake up that way after falling asleep on all his gold medals, the bruises are a result of an ancient Chinese therapy called cupping that is currently taking the athletic world by storm.
Traditionally fire is used to heat the air inside a glass bulb/cup which is then placed on the skin. As the air cools it creates a vacuum drawing the skin and tissue into the cup. Today, it’s common to see a suction gun being used instead of a flame.
What are the benefits?
Cupping helps speed up recovery from injury, reduces muscle aches and helps get rid of knots in the tissues.
How does it work?
In Chinese medical philosophy, cupping is used to break up and move stagnant energy, restoring the flow of chi through the meridians. Looking at it from a Western perspective, it is similar to myofascial release, which uses long periods of static pressure to reduce muscle tension. The added benefit of cupping is the negative pressure simultaneously increases blood flow which makes it a truly unique therapy.
The bruising is the result of ruptured capillaries under the skin. The body responds to this mild cell damage by initiating a healing response, bringing nutrient rich blood to repair the tissue.
The round marks may look painful but they don’t ache at all, unlike the bruises you’d experience from an impact injury. Sam, our massage therapist uses cupping to treat lower back pain, shoulder and neck pain, headaches and low energy. It can help release those painful trigger points and fascial tensions and improving your mobility.