How Can Athletes Benefit from Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy has been most notable seen and used in Olympic athletes pushing their bodies to the limit and bringing home the gold. Cupping techniques have been around even before the Olympic games. Since cupping is one of the more beneficial options, many people choose it, including athletes.

Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine that dates back over two thousand years ago. Cupping therapy involves creating a vacuum within a cupped structure placed on specific acupuncture points on the skin. This therapy can be done by heating the air within the cup before placing it on the skin. Cupping advocates believe that cupping therapy can help increase circulation and promote healing. The procedure is generally safe when trained professionals perform it, but it can cause bruises and soreness.

What is Cupping Therapy? 

There are three different cupping methods available — dry, air, and wet. Before your first cupping therapy session, it is essential to learn about these different methods to choose the right one for your wellness needs.

According to Cleveland Clinic, during air cupping, the cup is placed on your skin, and a suction device removes the air from the cup to create a vacuum. In dry cupping, the therapist soaks a cotton ball or other material in alcohol, lights it, and places it inside the cup to remove the oxygen. In wet cupping, the therapist punctures your skin slightly to draw a small amount of blood and then places the cups on your body.

A certified expert places specialized heated cups on your skin during your cupping therapy session to create a small vacuum. As a result, your skin reddens and rises, causing your blood vessels to expand. This suction helps restore blood flow and lets your body flush out toxins from a problem area.

The amount of time the cups are left on your body varies, depending upon the condition for which you seek treatment. In general, three to five cups are left on your body for two to four minutes. 

These cups may be made of bamboo, glass, or earthenware. Sometimes, a cupping therapist may even apply massage oil to the skin and “slide” the cups over a broader area if your muscle tissue is less specific to a smaller area. Each cupping therapy session may differ depending on your specific needs. That is why it is essential to discuss your therapy needs with a professional.

How Does Cupping Therapy Work?

During your cupping therapy session, the suction action from cupping draws fluid into the treated area. This suction force expands and breaks open tiny blood vessels — capillaries — under the skin. Your body treats the cupping area like an injury. It sends more blood to the area to stimulate the natural healing process. Some people theorize that cupping clears the pores and releases toxins.

Professional athletes — even enthusiastic HIIT athletes— often have to race or perform several times a day or week. Cupping therapy helps your body and muscles recover by reducing pain and muscle tenderness. 

The benefits primarily revolve around the fascia of your body. Fascia is connective tissue woven throughout your body. It is also between, around, and on the surface of muscles. If there are problems with the fascia — if it is too tense, pulled, or not properly lubricated — it can cause pain and hinder your athletic performance. Cupping therapy can help lubricate the fascia, resulting in smoother, more efficient muscle movement over time. 

What are the Benefits of Cupping Therapy for Athletes?

Cupping can help athletes relieve muscle tension and tightness, but it can also help anyone with pain, stiffness, or muscle tension problems. Some studies indicate that cupping may reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, increase energy, and reduce migraines. 

Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can increase your risk of a cardiac issue, such as a heart attack or stroke. Some experts say that cupping therapy sessions can help reduce your blood pressure levels. Studies have shown that cupping therapy can decrease both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers. Engaging in cupping therapy can be a great addition to your overall health to help manage your hypertension over time potentially.

Eliminate Chronic Back Pain 

Cupping therapy can provide substantial healing and pain relief for many lower back problems in your body. Precisely, for pain caused by a back strain, when the correct muscle is targeted, cupping can control the pain at its source—for quicker and lasting pain relief when the correct muscle is targeted.

Increase Relaxation

Simply lying still and allowing a cupping therapist to apply this therapy can positively affect your overall health. Cupping is similar to receiving a deep tissue massage because it offers muscle relief. Cupping therapy helps lift pressure from tense muscles, providing a soothing experience. When combined with lying still in a quiet environment, the process can be highly relaxing and can be immensely beneficial to your overall wellness. 

Promote Faster Muscle Healing

Muscle tension usually occurs with chronic pain. Over time, cupping therapy can promote a faster healing process for your body by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation. Cupping techniques loosen the tight tissue clusters that are a primary cause of pain in your body. Cupping can be more effective at relieving muscle pain compared to medication or other medical treatments. It also tends to be a cost-effective solution for pain relief. Pain is a sign that something is wrong, so seeking help from a therapist is one option to help manage your pain. 


Cupping therapy can reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain, joint rigidity, intense fatigue, headache, and muscle spasms. A study found that cupping therapy sessions can help people with fibromyalgia to feel more relaxed and assist with tender point pain.

Reduces Migraines

Migraines occur when there is a reduction in blood supply to your brain. This is the reason why they’re also referred to as vascular headaches. Whenever you experience a trigger, like stress, your muscles at the base of the skull will spasm and restrict the supply of blood to the brain. The vessels in your brain expand when spasms occur to make up for the lack of blood and reduced oxygen. The expanded vessels exert pressure on the nerves, which causes the pulsating pain of your migraines. Cupping therapy performed on your forehead, cheekbones, and base of the neck can result in relaxed muscles and increased blood supply. In a way, it is reversing precisely what causes your migraine pain.

Schedule Your Cupping Therapy Session in Boulder or Longmont Today

Whether you are an athlete, need to relieve muscle tension, or reduce muscle pain, there are many benefits to working with an experienced Colorado cupping therapist at Optimal Wellness. 

Learn more about the benefits of cupping therapy and other massage therapies to promote better overall wellness at our two Colorado massage locations in Boulder and Longmont.

At Optimal Wellness, we offer a variety of services to help you perform better and improve your quality of life. Learn more about our wellness services on our website or book your appointment with our skilled Colorado therapist to get on the road to optimal wellness. 

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