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What Is Cupping?

August 11, 2016

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You may have noticed that some of the greatest Olympic athletes — ahem, Michael Phelps! Alex Naddour! — are sporting some rather odd-looking marks on their backs and shoulders. No, they’re not giant hickeys nor are they part of some new tattoo fad. Those small, circular marks are the result of a healing technique called “cupping.” We asked Jamie, massage therapist at milk + honey Hill Country Galleria, to give us the lowdown on cupping — what it is, why athletes are utilizing it, and why it’s good for you.

What is cupping?

Cupping is an ancient Chinese medicine modality that has been around for thousands of years. Cupping does, in fact, involve a cup — attached to a pump. The technique increases blood flow and helps to heal sore muscles.

Why are athletes, like Michael Phelps, cupping?

Athletes use it because it helps increase muscle recovery by helping to eliminate lactic acid and toxins from the muscle layer. By pulling the blood to the skin’s surface with suction, it allows for new oxygenated blood to help restore the tissues. That said, it’s not only useful for athletes. Most sports injuries stem from overuse and/or misuse of a muscle or, in some cases, lack of use. For example: if you have neck and shoulder pain that limits your use of your arms, cupping can help reduce muscle tension and help improve range of motion while helping to reduce inflammation by moving lymph fluid.

Is cupping for you?

Often times, clients come in feeling stressed, but after a cupping session, they leave feeling like a weight has been lifted! Cupping is great for shoulder, neck, and back tightness and pain — and is also amazing for releasing tight hamstrings, calves, and quads from running, sitting at a desk all day long, driving, and daily exercise.

Interested in trying cupping? Call 512.236.1115 to schedule an appointment. We offer cupping upon request.
Photo: Instagram user m_phelps00

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