BJJ Recovery: Cupping
As athletes, whether professional or recreational, recovery is super important to keep us healthy performing at our best. Lately as I’ve been scrolling through my IG posts, I’ve seen more and more friends in the sport turn to cupping as a supplement to their recovery (percussion massage, massage therapy, chiro, and cryotherapy). Perhaps it is growing more in popularity by professional athletes trying to keep their edge, yet the benefits from traditional Chinese cupping have yet to be substantiated by professional athletes.
For those of you unfamiliar with cupping, it is a Chinese medicine therapy that moves or stimulates your body’s natural energy (also known as “qi”). Cupping is said to increase blood supply to a specific area, which assists in healing sore, tired muscles
There are a couple of ways in which traditional cupping is done, but the most popular with athletes are air and fire cupping. Air is heated in a glass cup, which removes the air from the cup. The cup is then quickly placed on the skin and the resulting vacuum pulls the skin partially into the cup, causing a bruise. Some say that they experience a release in muscle tension afterwards, which I have experienced the last time I was cupped following a massage.
Cupping is also believed to mobilize blood flow to the skin, creating a mild immune response and increasing anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body. It draws stagnant blood to the surface (the bruising) and improves blood circulation to the tissues. It stretches tight muscles and fascia, making it a beneficial treatment for athletes.
While there is no substantial research to prove that cupping as a direct effect on sports performance, this new trendy treatment does in fact reduce muscle/joint inflammation and pain – which would subsequently increase physical performance during sport activity. Who likes training when their muscles are sore? Do we perform at our best when our muscles are sore? Not at all.
As athletes, we’ll take whatever edge we can get when it comes to being able to recover faster to train better. Perhaps if your muscles are as tight and sore consistently, you may wanna add cupping into your recovery massage regimen.