Cupping Therapy for Athletes


Why Professional Athletes and Amateurs Alike are Praising this Ancient Therapy

With high-performing athletes and A-List celebrities sporting their eye-catching round marks on TV and social media, it’s no surprise that their secret health strategy has come into the limelight. Cupping therapy is one of the nation’s most growing therapeutic practices – and for good reason. This safe and effective technique can relieve pain, repair muscles, and even enhance athletic performance and an excellent part of sports therapy.

At the Muscle Doc Method, cupping therapy has always been integral to our rehabilitation and performance enhancement care. With this simple yet transformative technique, we achieve faster, better results for our athletes and general patients.

Cupping therapy has been in practice for thousands of years, beginning in the early medical traditions of the Arabic and Chinese cultures. After its prolific use in the 2016 Olympics, however, cupping went viral and soon became a household name. Since then, millions of people (from athletes to the elderly) have sought out cupping to help relieve their symptoms and achieve their best health.

If you are looking for a solution for your pain, muscle tightness, limited range of motion, injury rehabilitation, or general health, it’s time to consider cupping therapy. 

What Is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy uses small, handheld cups and the science of vacuums to release tension and increase blood flow in muscles and fascia. This therapy is typically done on areas of large muscle groups such as the back, hamstrings, and calves, but can be used in many areas of the body.

Cupping has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine for centuries, along with acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbal medicine. Ancient Arab doctors also discovered the benefits of cupping and created their version of the therapy, “Hijama.”

Today, cupping has transformed into a modern health technology while still holding on to its ancient roots. It is most sought after by professional athletes, active individuals, and those with pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, back pain, or arthritis.

Cupping Therapy San Diego CA

How Cupping Therapy Works

Although it may seem like a complicated and coordinated therapy, cupping is actually a simple technique that uses basic principles of physics to heal the body.

At the Muscle Doc Method, we use both glass cups for “fire cupping” and manual suction cups. With glass cups, we safely use a flame to create a vacuum in the cup before applying that cup to the skin and muscle. This vacuum lifts the skin, fascia, and superficial muscles to allow for increased circulation in the targeted areas. Manual suction cups work similarly, but a pump is used to create the vacuum rather than a flame.

While the cups are in place, old and stagnant blood is drawn out of the small vessels of the muscles and skin and new blood can flush in. Old blood shows up as red or purple marks on the skin post-cupping and is later cleared by the body. This provides a deep detoxifying effect while also allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to heal and nourish tired, sore muscles.

The Muscle Doc Method Difference: Advanced Cupping Therapy Techniques

Not all cupping is created equal. With cupping’s popularity boom, many health gurus and healers are jumping on board to offer cupping treatments in various capacities. Unfortunately, cupping is accessible to those without advanced training or adequate understanding of the human body or the high-performing athlete. It is important to seek out a highly trained practitioner with expert-level cupping experience for the best results. Christopher Brenner of the Muscle Doc Method has advanced the traditional cupping techniques with high-level sports medicine mechanics to provide the best in cupping therapy.

Active Release Cupping Therapy

With this technique, cupping is combined with therapeutic and targeted movement strategies to rehabilitate entire muscle groups. While cups are in place, athletes are led through specific stretches and exercises to activate and release areas of blockage and increase range of motion.

Hijama Cupping

Hijama cupping is a specialized form of cupping that drastically improves results for issues related to stagnation and pain. Small pricks are administered to the skin of the targeted area, then a cup is applied. This releases old, clotted, unoxygenated blood immediately from the muscle tissue and stimulates rapid healing.

Cupping Therapy for Athletes

Cupping has a wide range of uses, but its claim to fame lies in sports rehabilitation and performance enhancement. Athletes such as Michael Phelps, Alexander Naddour, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green (along with other celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, and Gwyneth Paltrow) proudly show off their cupping marks to the public. Cupping has become a popular therapy in Cross Fit, running, bodybuilding, and volleyball circles.

The general reason for cupping’s popularity among professional athletes is simple: Cupping helps improve the body’s ability to be its best, whether that’s through healing an injury, increasing strength, or facilitating recovery. As a competitive athlete, any advantage or way to improve your performance can mean the difference between good and best. Still, there are many more specific reasons why athletes choose cupping as a stable therapy. Let’s review some of these highlights:

The Top Reasons Olympic Athletes Use Cupping Therapy to Improve Endurance

  • Cupping increases blood flow and circulation to the muscles and joints.
  • Cupping relieves pain, tension, stiffness, and rigidity in the muscles.
  • Cupping enhances the body’s detoxification process.
  • Cupping speeds up recovery time after heavy training.
  • Cupping promotes the healing of injuries.
  • Cupping increases range of motion and muscular capacity.
  • Cupping stimulates energy, vitality, and lengthens endurance.
  • Cupping helps the body perform better.
  • Cupping relaxes the mind and encourages mental focus and stability.

What Should I Expect from My Cupping Therapy Session?

While cupping has become more widely used in the past few years, it is still a new therapy to some. Many patients are curious about what to expect from a cupping therapy session at Muscle Doc Method. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about cupping therapy so you can be totally prepared and empowered before your session.

What does cupping therapy feel like?

Because cupping therapy uses suction to lift and flush the muscles and fascia, it feels just like a suction cup on the skin. There can be a sensation of tightness, fullness, and pressure while the cups are on. Many times, people feel the same sensation as a deep tissue massage. After the treatment, you will likely feel a deep muscular release, warmth, and looseness.

Does cupping hurt?

No, cupping is not painful or uncomfortable. There can be strong sensations while the cups are on, this is not an unpleasant feeling. In fact, most people find cupping therapy to be enjoyable and relaxing! However, always communicate with your practitioner if anything during treatment feels uncomfortable.

Does cupping cause bruising?

Cupping therapy is famous for leaving red or purple spots on the treated areas. While these resemble circular bruises, they are not actually bruised tissue, but tiny petechiae. This coloration is called “sha” in Chinese medicine and is known to reveal regions of increased stagnation and poor circulation. The darker the mark, the more intense the stagnation in that region. Old and ineffective blood is removed from the tissue and new blood can enter to rejuvenate the muscle. If you experience “sha” after your cupping session, you will find that these areas won’t feel tender or sore like a bruise would. Occasionally there is mild tenderness in the area the day following treatment. Any discoloration will naturally disappear after a few days.

Does cupping therapy work?

Yes! Cupping therapy is an incredibly useful tool for pain relief, muscle recovery, and performance enhancement. At the Muscle Doc Method, cupping is an integral part of our holistic muscle maintenance program to encourage well-rounded care and the total wellness of our athletes. Many people notice instant relief from cupping therapy after the cups are removed. With regular treatment, cupping can not only restore the health of the body, but help it achieve optimal functioning.

Can cupping be used by anyone?

Cupping therapy is a widely used treatment that can be beneficial for most cases of pain, soreness, and performance enhancement. Cupping can also be used for more internal issues like respiratory, digestive, or gynecological complaints. While most people are safe to use cupping, it is important to let your practitioner know if you could be pregnant, have a fainting disorder, or have any open wounds or skin conditions in the area to be treated.

How often should I come for a session?

The recommended frequency for cupping depends on you and your health concerns. Most people can benefit from a few weekly sessions. As your condition improves, cupping is needed less frequently. For sports performance and enhancement, cupping can be used regularly as well as post-event to speed up recovery.

Enhance Your Health and Performance with Cupping Therapy

Whether you are a professional athlete, casually active, or have a non-sports related issue, cupping can help you reach your health goals. Christopher Brenner at the Muscle Doc Method has expertly crafted his signature cupping techniques to provide the ultimate in integrative, functional muscle therapy for his patients. Start on the path to a stronger, healthier body and mind today.

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