It seems that the most talked about subject at the Rio Olympics was not sports and medals, but rather the ancient practice of cupping – used by many of the athletes competing in different categories. This was more than obvious from the red circles on their skin which sparked controversy before being concluded what they were actually from.
What is cupping therapy?
This ancient Chinese treatment also known as hijamah, was developed thousands of years ago and it was used to stimulate life force energy through meridians in the body just as acupuncture does, under the same theories.
The cups used in this treatment can be made of plastic or bamboo, but the majority of cups used in this treatment are made of glass. First a source of heat is placed inside the cup, warming it and removing the oxygen inside, creating a vacuum. In a more modern alternative some use a suction gun to create the same effect. The cup is then placed strategically along a meridian to improve blood and energy flow to the area that requires healing.
This healing method has been used by the ancient civilization in the treatment of respiratory issues, against pains, aches and inflammations, for depression and gastrointestinal problems.
Today, athletes have turned to this ancient practice of cupping as a method to clear all meridians and loosen up muscles and tendons for maximum performance.
The Science of Cupping Therapy
Cupping works by flushing out toxins from the body through the skin.
Cupping is linked to:
- lowering blood pressure in patients suffering from hypertension
- eliminating chronic back and neck pain
- improving the stiffness and pain caused by osteoarthritis and neuralgia
- maintaining normal blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetics
- clearing vascular claudication (pain caused by artery constriction)
- boosting digestion
The practice started gaining popularity in the West in the 1950s and has become widely popular of late. There have been numerous clinical studies on the subject and their number has gradually increased. Here’s a few of the conclusions:
“…quality and quantity of RCTs [randomized control trials] on cupping therapy appears to be improved during the past 50 years in China, and majority of studies show potential benefit on pain conditions, herpes zoster and other diseases.”
“…positive short-term effect of cupping therapy on reducing pain intensity compared with no treatment, heat therapy, usual care, or conventional drugs.”
“Cupping may allow patients to progress to functional movement training in a timely manner by promptly reducing pain and muscle tenderness and improving range of motion.”
“After performing cupping, we observe that the coloring of the skin changes from clear pink to dark red, due to extravasation of blood from the capillaries into the flesh. This deep tissue blood falls into decay, the red globules break up and set free the antitoxins that impregnate them. Besides that, we observe extensive polynucleosis, which enables the patient to resist infectious pathogens.”
No adverse side effects were detected during the studies except for the temporary red circles on the skin.
5 Benefits of Cupping
Pain Relief – Based on the conclusions from a number of studies cupping therapy can relieve different types of pain, ranging from cancer to arthritis and lower back pain.
Relaxation – We can’t get enough relaxation in this stressful modern day and age! Cupping therapy relieves stress by promoting energy and blood flow.
Healing – This treatment stimulates blood flow to a particular area that needs to be treated and better flow means faster healing.
Skin – What happens inside your body can often be manifested on the outside, via various skin problems. With cupping the blood flow to the surface of the skin improves bringing oxygen and nutrients closer and healing your problems. It can be effective in reducing the occurrence of acne, eczema, and cellulite.
Digestion – Digestive problems whether they’re related to an immune system response, malnutrition, or chronic stress, can be relieved with cupping. It reduces the stress in the abdominal area, eliminating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, and water retention.
In the video below you can see how cupping therapy is performed: