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January 16, 2020 4 min read

Cupping stole the limelight when Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps took to the pool with his back and shoulders decorated with those telltale circular kisses. All at once, cupping was the question on everyone’s lips: “What is this mysterious technique, and should I get in on it?”

Phelps isn’t alone in his love of cupping—many athletes use it as a regular treatment option to help ease the aches and pains of heavy physical exertion and keep their muscles and joints smooth and limber. Cupping can also help with athletic injuries by shortening healing time and reducing swelling and discomfort. Athletes can use cupping therapy to recover from surgery and cut the downtime needed between heavy workouts. In short, for many athletes cupping is the perfect option for maintaining their overall physical health and keeping their bodies fit to compete.

But how does cupping help heal hard-working bodies? To understand the mechanics behind how such a simple item can bring about such big results we need to look at the fundamental changes cupping creates in the body. When a cup is applied to a particular area, the suction helps to bring fresh blood to that spot, flooding it with oxygen and nutrients. At the same time, the harmful toxins that love to linger in injured areas are broken up so they can be expelled. That means less inflammation and less pain. The cup is also working hard to separate the layers of muscle and tissue with firm but gentle suction, making way for more healthy blood to flow. That improvement in circulation spreads to the healing center, aka the immune system, and voila! The body is now primed to heal itself.

There are two basic types of cupping that are ideal for athletes. The aforementioned healing relief from aches, pains, and injuries can be achieved via static cupping, where an area of suction is created in several places on the body with stationary cups. And it’s not just the big muscles that can benefit. Plantar fasciitis, a painful condition that causes sharp pains in the heels, is a common issue among athletes and can also be effectively treated with static cupping.

Massaging cupping is another option—in this technique, the cups are placed and moved along the skin with the aid of an oil to create a ‘reverse massage’ effect. The cups are adhered, glided along the skin, and released. Muscle stiffness, joint pain, and muscle spasms are all conditions that respond very well to a good cupping massage, and results can be seen by doing it for as little as three to five minutes a few times a week.

That all sounds pretty good, you may be thinking, but I’m not an athlete! What can cupping do for me? The fact is, even non-athletes can reap a host of benefits from cupping therapy, and with many people making New Year’s resolutions to get fit, you may be putting more stress on your body than you realize. But there’s better news…all the techniques we’ve discussed here are treatments you can utilize at home. That plantar fasciitis mentioned earlier? That’s the same culprit behind your sore steps first thing in the morning. Many people find that after a day on their feet the next day brings some pain and a return to the gym can make it even more noticeable. Let’s take a look at three common aches and pains associated with workouts, and the at-home cupping therapy that can help you reach your fitness goals for 2019.

Heal your Heels – Let’s talk some more about those sore feet. Using cups on the soles of the feet for only five minutes after a long day or a vigorous workout can help your morning be a lot brighter. Static systems such as Lure’s Ionic Energy Cupping Set are a great option. The cups are small but mighty and will give your feet some much needed TLC.

The Day After Dilemma – One of the hallmarks of a great workout is how much pain you’re in the next day. While an all-over ache can help you feel like your regime is really hitting all the right areas, full body pain is no fun to deal with and makes it hard to jump back into the gym. One solution? Bring the Edge Body Cupping Therapy Set with you when you take that post-workout shower. These cups are ideal for massaging and not only will the gliding suction feel heavenly on your tired muscles, it will also help stimulate blood flow and reduce the day-after pain. And there’s no lengthy treatment time required! Five minutes of cupping will do as much good as a thirty-minute deep tissue massage.

Sprain Pain – It’s easy to overdo it, especially when diving back into a regular workout schedule. Strains, pulls, and sprains are common, but they can also turn into a serious roadblock if a twisted ankle gets you laid up for a week. Help reduce the pain and swelling associated with strained and sprained muscles with cupping therapy. For at-home help try Zen Performance Body Cupping. These massaging cups will help soothe pain in the area and stimulate blood flow, improving circulation for faster healing.

So as you can see, you don’t need to be a gold medalist to reap the full benefits of cupping, and you can easily relieve post-workout stress in the comfort of your own home. If you’re embarking on a health journey that may have you feeling the burn, cupping is the perfect method for dulling the pain and keeping your health goals on track.