Brady Need – @BradyNeed
If you watched any of the 2016 Olympics, chances are you saw athletes walking around with polka dots all over their body. While you thought it was weird the first time you saw it, the more you watched you quickly realized that whatever this was, it was way more popular than you thought. These “polka dots” are a result of a type of physical therapy/ massage that actually has been around for centuries.
The therapy is known as “cupping” and gets its name from the tools used to perform it. In ancient times, they would use a match and a small bowl (like a fishbowl) and create a vacuum, inside of the cup and place it on your body. This vacuum would create suction on your body. As your skin rises, it will redden as your blood vessels expand. The dots that we saw on athletes are not always a result of this therapy. The cups can be left on your body for any amount of time, and the longer you leave them in place the more likely you are to have markings after it is all over. Another form of cupping is a cupping massage. In this method, they will once again put a cup on your body but instead of leaving it in one spot for minutes at a time, they will rub it all over you like a normal massage would go with the help of a sports cream similar to an Icy Hot. The main idea behind this rather than a normal massage is that by using a vacuum on your body you are having a negative (pulling) pressure applied rather than the physical application of pressure. Negative pressure is a more effective way to deal with pain management and tissue compression. By utilizing cupping, your muscles are pulled up, enhancing circulation and provide pain management. Other believed benefits from cupping therapy include increased blood flow, circulation, loosened knots, and can help rid your body of toxins.
While I am certainly no doctor (and none of this is truly scientifically proven) I knew the only way to see if I thought it worked or not was to get it done myself. So that is what I did. I went with the cupping massage and left one cup in place for 3 minutes to see how my body reacted this first time. To sum up my results, I will certainly be going back to get more cupping work done. I feel that it instantly released tension in my lats, traps and lower back. It is a completely different feeling than a normal massage, and you will feel the difference as soon as you are done. Like I mentioned before, instead of someone putting lots of pressure into your muscles trying to work the knots and tension out, the cupping tries to suck those out and doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as a typical deep tissue massage. I felt like I had a new back after I walked out of that massage. I only had one “dot” from the one cup left in place, and those will typically stick around for 1-2 weeks at most before your skin is back to normal. I am a believer and I would highly encourage any athlete to deeply consider trying cupping out. You wont regret it!
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