Michael Phelps and many other Olympic athletes use cupping...
but what does cupping really do for them?
- Is there a real physiological benefit to cupping?
- Or a positive placebo effect from cupping?
- Or no benefit at all?
- Or does cupping cause a negative effect and actually hurt performance and recovery?
Why do the muscles of the upper back and traps get more stressed, sore, and painful than other muscles? It has to do with posture.
The cause of the problem is the poor postural position of the thoracic spine, shoulders, and head. Until the faulty posture is corrected the muscle pain and tension will continue to return.
Does cupping increase blood flow? Maybe yes and no. Cupping does pull blood to the area being cupped, but the rupturing of blood vessels that cause the bruising will have a overall negative effect on blood and nutrients getting into and out of tissues.
So does cupping really work? If "work" means temporarily pain relief then the answer is maybe yes. If "work" means fix the reason why the pain is there and speed recovery then the answer is no.