Does Cupping Therapy Improve Athletic Performance?

>> October 30, 2015

Various strategies have been used by top athletes to accelerate recovery from sternous exercise or training. This includes the active warm up, water immersion (hot, cold, combination), massage, and light pool exercise. The least known, although used quite often in Asia is "cupping therapy".

It is now gaining its popularity with top athletes are seen using it, even in the Olympic level (i.e. Beijing 2008 and London 2012).

Apparently, it create a huge space or gap in the sphere of science and mechanism as research investigating efficacy of cupping therapy as recovery modality are scarce.

Mehta and Dhapte (2015). Cupping therapy: A prudent remedy for a plethora of medical ailments
Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, In Press.

Asian athletes or population in general have been using it for improving the body function, which could lead to an improved physical or sports performance, just like other recovery strategies.

Not like the acupuncture treatment, cupping therapy leaves "red mark" on the affected area which is caused by the vacuum formed from the cupping (bottle). During the treatment, it pulls the air out of the cup which subsequently pulls the skin and tissue muscles upward (see photo). This elevates the blood circulation due to the formation of blood vessel as a result of the pressure being created during the process. This could also lead to an increased supply of oxygen and nutrition to the area.

It is interesting to explore the physiological effects and mechanism underpinning the effective healing or recovery associated with cupping therapy.

In high performance sports, little (marginal) gains mean winner or loser, in other words gold or silver. After all the hard work and dedication, every athletes are seeking the edge to generate advantages.

Cupping therapy is not a non-science strategy for enhancing performance (via recovery), you should consider to formulate a hypothesis and try to prove it.

Actress Gwyneth Pathlow

UPDATE: Cupping trend in Rio Olympics

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