Cupping Therapy — Does It Help Runners?

You might not have known what it was, but at some point, you probably might have seen it. After all, it is something not hard to miss; unsightly —even slightly unnerving— red circles fill the body like otherworldly polka dots. You might have even wondered what those people were thinking.

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Of course, accompanying the strange markings are satisfied users who sweat by the method. They claim cupping does wonders in helping them recover after a strenuous workout and boosts mobility, too. Long has there been a conflict between the western-style modern medication and the unproven but effective Chinese counterpart. But as long as we are on this subject, what we really want to know is if it will help runners.

What Exactly Is Cupping?

It does not take a lot to figure out what it is; clue: it is in the name. Spherical glass cups are placed on your skin for 3-15 minutes, and normally, heat is used to create a suction effect — this is why some users often comment on the warmness of the treatment.

According to Chinese terminology, cupping aims to balance one’s Qi, or energy, and blood in stagnant areas or where it is lacking due to soft tissue imbalances, overtraining, or injuries. While it is easy to overestimate the painfulness of the procedure, it is in fact done to a tolerable level.

Benefits for Runners and Question Marks

Where do runners fit into the equation then? Think of common running-related injuries or strains that you have had over the years, like typical muscular cramps, for instance, where parts of your legs tightened up.

The key work for cupping is decompression — as blood flow is facilitated in your cupped areas, the muscles loosen and therefore recovers faster, providing some much-needed relief in the process. Cupping practitioners like this one have observed that it is particularly effective with athletes who suffer from plantar fasciitis, a heel injury.

There is also an advanced version of it that involves a certain degree of initial discomfort, and that is to adopt an active flexion movement after the cups have been placed. As with everything you do in life, no good things come without pain; overcoming this increases your range of motion by ten to fifteen degrees.

Where there are ardent followers, there will also be sceptics. It does not help that there is currently no medical evidence to validate the healing properties of cupping, much like other traditional Chinese practices like acupuncture. It is also debated whether cupping actually treats the root of the problem, or does it merely alleviate the discomfort like hot plasters.

To Cup, Or Not To Cup?

Like most health advice found here, it all boils down to your individual body. In general, no overt harm has been reported over cupping when it is done by a professional, and if it does improve your running, then there is no harm giving it a try.

Similarly, if your body does not react too well to it, stop immediately. Cupping is still a grey area in the medical world, and your body is the best barometer to determine its effectiveness.

 "Cupping is still a grey area in the medical world, and your body is the best barometer to determine its effectiveness."


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LIV3LY Editor
LIV3LY Editor

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