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Cupping: Recovery Method of Choice for Phelps and Bridges

The bruises and purple dots that characterise this treatment have appeared on both athletes. Let’s see what this treatment actually involves, and how it could benefit you.


“In the therapy, an acupuncturist soaks a cotton ball in alcohol and lights it on fire inside a glass cup. The Acupuncturist removes the flame, and quickly places the cup on a patient’s skin, creating a vacuum that draws up the skin tissue, says Mark Perido, an educator with the International Cupping Therapy Association.

When the skin seals the hot air in the vessel, the air inside begins to cool, causing the skin to contract. Advocates of cupping say it’s this stretching and contraction of the skin that makes cupping effective, since it increases blood flow. “Blood flow is the body’s way of naturally healing,” says Houman Danesh, M.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology and rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital who frequently combines cupping with mainstream pain therapy techniques. “Increased blood flow can be beneficial to jumpstart or restart a blunted healing response.”[1]


The practice of this treatment actually stretches far back into history. The ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Middle Eastern Civilizations used this healing method to stimulate blood flow.

“This therapy is a form of alternative medicine in which cups made from glass, bamboo, or earthenware are placed on the skin to create suction. Supporters of the technique believe the suction of the cups mobilizes blood flow, promoting the healing of a broad range of medical ailments, including muscle soreness. The therapy dates back to ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures. According to many historical texts, the ancient Egyptians were using cupping therapy as early as 1,550 B.C.”[2]


“Cupping has numerous benefits — it can help remove toxins from the body and stimulate the flow of fresh blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area and throughout the body. It often works wonders for patients with the flu, colds, coughs, back and muscle pain, poor circulation, anxiety, red itchy skin conditions (though cups are not applied to inflamed areas), allergies, fevers, aches and myriad other pains.

It is not exclusive to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Variations of this treatment were used by ancient Egyptians, North American Indians, early Greeks, and in other Asian and European countries. This method of therapy was recommended by Hippocrates, the man whom many consider to be the “Father of Modern Medicine,” in his guide to clinical treatment. “ [3]


crossfit games photographs josh bridges murph ego is the enemy cuppingSource: CrossFit Inc
Crossfit legend Josh Bridges is a fan of the technique

Cupping is using by Crossfit athelete Josh Bridges, who won the California Regionals. He found this treatment very beneficial for recovery process. After its popularity has continued to take hold, do you think other Crossfitters will try this ancient way too?

[1] http://www.menshealth.com/health/what-is-cupping-therapy

[2] (http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/cupping-therapy)

[3] http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16791/3-reasons-everyone-should-try-cupping.html

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