What is cupping? Jeff Dubrof tries the athletic treatment

Posted at 10:46 PM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 23:46:01-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Watch any sporting event. Basketball, baseball, or swimming, take a look and you will more than likely notice large dark marks on the bodies of athletes.

What appears to be large bruises might be a sore sight. However, they are actually marks left behind by one of the fastest growing athletic recovery treatments: cupping.

It is said that cupping was first started by the ancient taoist and herbalist in China by the name Ge Hong and records show that he first started the ancient technique sometime in the years of 281-341 A.D.

What exactly is cupping and what are its benefits? Jeff Dubrof went to Texas A&M Corpus Christi and met with the school's athletic trainers to find out first hand.

"Cupping is a fascia release technique that alleviates tightness and soreness," athletic trainer Tristin Connolly said.

Fascia is the band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.

Cupping sucks the skin up using a suction cup and this acts as a deep tissue massage that breaks up the stressed fascia allowing the muscles underneath to release itself from stress and tension as well.

Some experts and the athletic trainers we spoke with said that it helps increase blood flow through the body.

As mentioned, cupping has been around for thousands of years, but became popular in America in the past decade or so. It was popularized by one of the world's most famous athletes.

"When Michael Phelps was jumping out of the pool with those marks that is when we first started to see cupping on a big stage," Islanders head athletic trainer Jerry Hilker said.

According to reports, ancient cupping techniques used bamboo and fire to create the suction technique. Today with technology being far more advanced than it was in 281 A.D., there are multiple shapes, sizes and materials.

"There are silicone cups and there is even glass cups used for something called fire cupping."

Cups are actually relatively cheap to purchase on websites such as Amazon, but athletic trainers advise you do not just use the equipment without properly learning first. There are some courses that teach individuals how to perform cupping on themselves while being careful.

Now what about those famous marks? The marks are nothing to worry about, they just indicate the amount of toxins that have been removed and the amount stagnant blood in the area that has just been treated. The darker the mark, the more toxins have been removed.