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Cupping Therapy for Sports Recovery

In 2016, Michael Phelps made waves in the pool, not just for his incredible swimming prowess, but also for the mysterious circular bruises adorning his skin – a result of cupping therapy. While cupping therapy has been a staple in Chinese medicine for millennia, Phelps’ public display brought it into the mainstream spotlight. But why did he opt for this ancient practice? Let’s delve into what cupping is and how it benefits elite athletes like Phelps.

What is Cupping?

At its core, cupping involves applying suction to the skin. Historically, bamboo or glass cups were used, with fire creating a vacuum by removing oxygen from the cup. Today, various forms of cupping exist. Glass cups, favored by many practitioners for their comfort, are placed on the skin after the flame is extinguished. Contrary to popular belief, the cups are not hot. Modern plastic cups feature one-way valves for suction, while silicone cups can be squeezed to create suction, making them ideal for sinusitis or cosmetic concerns.

How Does it Work?

Cupping offers a myriad of benefits, but its most remarkable impact is on post-workout recovery for athletes. After strenuous exercise, muscles accumulate lactic acid, leading to pain and soreness. Cupping therapy works by enhancing circulation to the muscles, effectively flushing out the buildup of lactic acid and reducing soreness and recovery time. Decreased soreness and faster recovery mean better performance.

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