Updated: Sep 21, 2021
If you are a passionate sports fan you may have noticed some round red or purple sports on some athletes. The most notable athlete rocking those marks was American swimmer Michael Phelps on the Olympic Games of 2016.
These marks are from myofascial cupping, which is widely used in athletic training, physiotherapy and remedial massage clinics. It was recently used in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games for pre- and post – competition recovery and detoxification. Interestingly, cupping is an ancient technique that dates to around 300AD, according to Chinese medical history.
So, what is Myofascial Cupping?
Myofascial cupping is a soft tissue therapy that involves the application of decompressed cups on the skin, creating a vacuum effect that lifts underlying tissues such as the fascia (connective tissue) and muscles.
The neck, back, shoulders, chest, abdomen and legs are areas commonly treated given the supply of numerous large muscle groups. Once suction has been achieved, the physiotherapist can move the cup in quick, rhythmic strokes over the muscles or leaving the cups in place for 3 to 5 minutes.
After the cup is removed from the skin, some circular bruising on the skin is to be expected and may stay visible for up to 2-9 days. This is a normal part of the therapy and it isn’t painful.
Why Myofascial Cupping?
Myofascial cupping therapy has been shown to be beneficial for several musculoskeletal conditions and has a growing popularity among athletes.
Cupping aids muscular regeneration and alleviates pain, which is ideal to athletic performance while undergoing treatment and recovery. For example, research has shown that cupping can be beneficial in soccer players experiencing lower back and hip pain (Bridgett et al. 2018).
Additionally, the most common benefits reported include improved Range of Motion (ROM) and reduced blood markers of training induced tissue damage.
Other benefits of cupping include:
Stimulate blood flow.
Drain lymph and cellular debris.
Separate layers of connective tissue to bring hydration and blood flow to body tissue.
Soften tight muscles.
Relieve deep muscular issues and reduce muscle spasms.
Lift and stretch soft tissue to separate fascial restrictions.
Increase range of movement and flexibility in joints.
Move stagnation of lactic acid and metabolic waste and enable normal lymphatic flow to promote healthy circulation and help strengthen the immune system.
If you would like to give myofascial cupping therapy treatment a try, our physios are here to provide you with quality treatment. Give the clinic a call on (07) 3061 7128 or book here!
Bridgett et al. Effects of Cupping Therapy in Amateur and Professional Athletes: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. 2018.