What Your Physical Therapist Knows About Cupping Therapy

Dec 19, 2023

During one of the more recent summer Olympic games, a lot of athletes—including swimmers and gymnasts—attracted attention due to the telltale red circles on their upper back and shoulders; they were doing cupping therapy before their events. Cupping is a common healing treatment used in sports that has many benefits for both recovery and performance. 

Athletes often push their bodies to the limit, and recovering well becomes an essential part of overall fitness. Cupping is a practice that involves the placement of specialized cups on the skin—a practice that can help with increasing blood flow, reducing muscle tension, and promoting pain relief. Are you looking for a great way to incorporate more healing and recovery into your training routine? Read on to learn more about what your physical therapist knows about cupping therapy.

There are so many benefits to cupping. Athletes can enjoy plenty of positive effects from regular cupping sessions. Some of them include:

  • Reduced pain and muscle tension: Working hard in any sport can mean there’s a lot of repetitive training. Being a committed athlete equals a lot of strenuous activity. All of this can add up to having tight muscles, painful knots, and general soreness. Cupping can help to relieve these symptoms by loosening muscles, improving circulation, and helping with a more efficient recovery.
  • Better range of motion: When your muscles are tight, your range of motion can be restricted. This can negatively impact your performance. Having a cupping therapy session can help to lengthen and loosen tight muscles, which helps with flexibility and mobility.
  • Stimulate your system: The lymphatic system can be positively affected by cupping therapy. This system is in charge of removing waste products from the body. A cupping session can help to further enhance your recovery by helping to detox.
  • Stress less: Cupping therapy can be a relaxing experience that helps to reduce stress. Whether an athlete wants to promote a zen mindset before competition or needs to wind down after intense training or performing, cupping can be a great way to help with this. 
  • Improve your game: Cupping can help athletes with increasing their range of motion, having better blood flow, and reducing pain. All of these things combine to help with athletic performance, endurance, and recovery. 

Cupping and physical therapy can go hand in hand. 

  • Consult with an expert. Cupping therapy can be a great thing for athletes of all different levels. You can work with a physical therapist to learn more about whether it’s right for you. A therapist may ask you about any medical conditions you have or medications you are taking before your session.
  • Work together. Cupping can be quite effective when it is done as part of a more comprehensive physical therapy routine. Working with experts at ROI, they can help you to develop a personalized plan for treatment that focuses on your specific goals and needs. 

What should you expect from a cupping therapy session? 

  • Prep: Your therapist will prepare the area to be treated.
  • Application: Cups will be placed on specific areas of your skin, creating suction. A cupping session will last for about 20 minutes, depending on your needs. 
  • Post-cupping: Your therapist will gently remove cups; this could be followed with a massage at the end of your session. 
  • After-care: Cupping therapy is generally safe and well tolerated, but some athletes do experience redness from the increased blood flow.

The physical therapists at ROI are all about treating the whole athlete. The holistic approach that ROI takes to working with athletes in all kinds of sports truly focuses on more than just athletic performance. Cupping therapy can be done alongside other therapies like dry needling or massage, stretching programs, and strength and conditioning routines. The team of experts at ROI work together and can help to add nutrition guidance, training, and other helpful therapies to athletes’ everyday routines. Our residency-trained specialists used a hands-on, science-based approach to cupping therapy. Our doctors of physical therapy work with athletes to track their progress using hard data and recorded observations to ensure that athletes are training and recovering safely. 

When you’re training at ROI, know that your coaches are focused on the body’s movement system—the collection of cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, integumentary, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems in your body. All of these systems interact to move our bodies; the goal at ROI is to help athletes to not only move better, but to reach peak performance levels. 

Are you ready to learn more about making cupping therapy part of your recovery routine? ROI has trained specialists, doctors of physical therapy, and a whole team that helps to design customized training plans for athletes. 

Do you want to add cupping therapy to your physical therapy routine? Learn more about all of ROI’s services for sports and physical therapy online, or give them a call at 512-962-9141.

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