World-class athlete and current 100m and 200m sprint Japanese record holder Chisato Fukushima’s acupuncture patches have received international attention after she completed the Olympic 200m sprint last Monday in Rio. She describes them as expanding her range of motions, making her feel as though she was in a hot spring while running.
Though gold medalists Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps in particular have received attention for their acupuncture and cupping treatments, they can’t be dismissed as quirky athletes: in fact, these practices are surprisingly common. In the wake of scandals surrounding doping, it’s no wonder that professional athletes turn towards more natural pain and management solutions that don’t involve drugs. In fact, cupping and acupuncture not only help ease tensions and pain, but many professional athletes report that these practices help them expand their range of motion, and give them the psychological edge so necessary for high level performance.
Olympians who’ve submitted themselves to these therapeutic approaches include wind-surfer Yin Jian, snowboarder Mark McMorris, swimmers, sprinters, and even high jumper Amy Acuff; though most popular among Chinese athletes, adherents to the practice include Canadian, American, British, Japanese and Australian competitors, among others. Outside the Olympics, prominent boxers, football players, gymnasts and rugby players and other athletes have also turned to cupping, which is often described as similar to a deep tissue massage.
Q: What is cupping?
A: An ancient Chinese practice, cupping is a practice that uses suction cups to lift fascia and muscles, easing tensions, and that temporarily increases blood circulation. There are lots of cupping techniques, but the most prominent ones are stationary cupping, where the cups are left on the skin; cupping massage, where they are soothingly glided across the skin; and flash cupping, where they’re quickly removed then moved to another area. Also of note is the difference between wet cupping, where an incision is made in the skin prior to placing a cup, and dry cupping, where it is not; dry cupping is vastly more popular than wet cupping in the West. Of course, these techniques can all be used in the same treatment.
Q: How can it help athletes?
A: Cupping’s ability to deeply and effectively relax muscles allows athletes to increase their flexibility and to relieve soreness, aches, and tensions that keep them from extending their muscles to their fullest. It is reported to also help accelerate the immune response to injury by causing a minor irritation; in any case, blood rushes to areas on which cups are applied, increasing circulation to that area.
Q: What do athletes use it for?
A: Cupping is usually done after rigorous exercise, as a preventative measure to ensure proper recuperation, as a way to relieve soreness and tensions, or simply as a part of post-exercise stretches. Some athletes prefer to see a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner; many, such as a Michael Phelps, ask teammates to help them or practice it on themselves, usually using either silicone or plastic cups.
Q: Does cupping hurt?
A: Depending on the intensity of the suction, cupping can feel like a pinch; however, the vast majority of people who undergo these treatments describe feeling deeply relaxed, and that the sensation resembles a massage. Patients can certainly ask practitioners to remove the cups if they become uncomfortable, or to adjust the degree of suction. Cupping is known for leaving bruises, but these marks are usually not painful, and fade after a few days.
Q: What types of cupping set are used?
A: There are mainly three types of cupping sets. Traditionally, the cups are made of glass or plastic, which are inflexible. The development of modern materials has made it possible to use silicone cups which are portable, pliable and unbreakable.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of these cupping set?
A: Glass cups can create strong vacuum and can add warm on the skin by burning with fire. Besides, glass cups are easy to glide on the skin by using massage oils, gels, lotions, or balms. However, using glass cups requires more training, and there is a risk of burning hurt as well as broken.
Cups made of plastics are normally used with a pump gun, which makes it very easy and quick to create strong vacuum.
Compared with glass cups, plastic cups do not need training but they are also not good for glide cupping therapy.
Silicone cupping set is made of a modern material—silicone, which is soft and elastic with enough thickness for strength and suction. A silicone cupping set contains several cups of different sizes and you can use them on almost everywhere on your body and even on your face. Silicone cups work by gently pulling tissues up and this process is like delivering a deep tissue massage. The disadvantage of silicone cups is that they usually cost a little bit more than other cuppings.
If you are interested in the product mentioned above, you can find a wide variety of alternative health products at Lierre medical. If you are looking for an experienced acupuncturist to learn more details about cupping therapy, we recommend Clinique d’Acupuncture Xiao Lei Wang .
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