Cupping therapy is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine—the earliest recorded use of cupping dates to the early fourth century. Cupping treatments are believed to act as the reverse of massage treatments. That’s because instead of applying pressure on the skin, cupping uses vacuum pressure to pull it upwards, creating negative pressure. The vacuum that’s created pulls the skin and blood vessels in toward the cup, releasing the connective tissue underneath the skin, which is why they can leave marks on the skin.
This therapy works by loosening muscles and stimulating blood flow to a particular region, and allowing muscles to move freely without restriction. Cupping is thought to improve circulation and promote tissue healing by pulling blood to a certain area.
There’s also some suggestion that it has anti-inflammatory effects. Thus, it can help relieve the stiffness of muscles, and since it works to calm the nervous system, it is also used to treat a host of mental ailments. It relaxes patients and induces a sense of mental and physical peace.
For some other common alternative forms of medicine to improve an athlete’s ability to function and manage pain, visit our PT Services page.