Cupping – Legit or Woo Woo?
You might have noticed the extremely subtle dark circles on some of the Olympic athletes, particularly in the pool. No, paintball is not an Olympic sport (yet), and they are not birthmarks; it is an ancient form of alternative therapy called cupping, but does it work or is it the equivalent of those Power Balance bracelets that did the rounds in High School?
The practice really gained some traction at the 2016 Olympics when Michael Phelps was covered in these red dots, and if the GOAT swimmer is doing something, you tend to follow suit.
Cupping is mostly used throughout Asia and the Middle East and without getting too technical, involves placing warm cups over sore parts of the body which looks a lot more painful than it really is. This creates a vacuum that is believed to stimulate blood flow, relieve pain, and promote recovery.
Along with the physical benefits, cupping is also considered in Chinese culture to facilitate the flow of qi (life force) through the body and the world around us, which if disrupted can lead to an imbalance in energy. There are several different theories on whether cupping is an effective remedy, however, questions get raised when there is little medical evidence that the process has any benefits for muscle repair at all.
Physicians around the world argue that this technique is merely a placebo, however, that doesn’t mean that it is not a powerful tool. On an occasion such as the Olympics where athletes are competing against the very best in the world, any edge you can gain could be the difference between silver and gold. If nothing else, psychological pain relief can be just as effective and when it’s certain to not make you piss hot, why wouldn’t they try it?
It’s important to remember these are Olympians, so if you’re looking to score an extra few runs in your local T20 park comp, I would save your money.
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