4 Health Benefits of Cupping for Athlete Recovery

Cupping therapy is utilized for many different reasons and provides various health benefits for athletes, such as blood flow, pain, an improved mental state, and more. The cups are placed on your skin in order to generate suction, and they are commonly made of either silicone, glass, bamboo, etc. Additionally, the cupping comes in two simple forms: dry or wet. The therapist doing the procedure uses some form of flammable substance and sets it on fire before placing the cup upside down on your skin as soon as the fire goes out, forming a ‘vacuum’, resulting in your skin rising and reddening. The procedure lasts about three minutes per cup. However, there is a more modernized version of cupping therapy involving a rubber pump as opposed to fire. So, what exactly does cupping benefit?

1. Managing Pain

Pain management is one of the primary benefits of cupping for athletes. As an athlete, managing pain and keeping your body as healthy and pain-free as possible after all of the workouts, stretching, and soreness is extremely important and will guarantee a successful, long career. If pain isn’t managed properly or effectively, long-term pain and issues worsening both could easily occur. Cupping can likely prevent either from happening.

2. Skin Issues

Wet cupping has been known to help with skin problems such as acne and eczema, due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Nevertheless, everyone’s body reacts differently to different treatments (which is why we practice #FunctionalMedicine at R3), so always do your research and seek professional advice prior to any treatments!

3. Mental Health

Additionally, cupping can improve your overall well-being and mental state by relieving your aches and pains. This can help ease anxiety and depression as well as induce the relaxation of the mind and body -- which can lead to deeper and more restful sleep, and subsequently a higher quality of life. 

4. Blood Flow

In addition to regulating blood flow and inflammation, it is also used to treat blood disorders, including but not limited to hemophilia and anemia. Lastly, cupping helps alleviate high blood pressure as well.

In addition to these benefits, cupping can potentially help with migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis, gynecological disorders and fertility. Familiarize yourself with the extent of the possible side effects, including discomfort, bruises and burns. With that being said, cupping is said to be relatively safe, as long as you thoroughly research the procedure and visit an experienced, well-educated medical professional. Ask your doctor if the procedure is the right fit for you as everyone is different and some people may benefit more from it while some may not benefit from it whatsoever. Curate a list of questions to ask your doctor, such as the positive and negative aspects of it, if there are reasons you should or should not try cupping therapy, and what their experience and completed training looks like. Good luck!