What Does Cupping Do For Athletes? — (Health Coach)

what does cupping do for athletes from find it health coaches and wellness coaches

As the main health and wellness coach at FindItHealth, I’m here to discuss the benefits of cupping therapy for athletes.

Cupping therapy has roots in traditional Chinese medicine and has numerous positive health effects, including reduced pain, and improved blood flow.

If you’re an athlete, or simply someone who engages in a lot of sports and physical activities, we recommend you seek the advice of your coach or healthcare provider to know the type of cupping treatments you need or if you need some other form of therapy. For more information, keep reading.

Benefits Of Cupping For Athletes

Here are the advantages of cupping:

  • Cupping stretches the skin and fascia, according to a 2017 investigation that was published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Cupping appears to have an anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating impact by breaking up the capillaries.
  • Cupping can raise pain thresholds, lower inflammation, improve anaerobic metabolism, and strengthen cellular immunity, according to a 2018 research review that was published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. 
  • Elite athletes utilize therapeutic techniques like cupping along with soft tissue massage, and warm and cold baths to facilitate efficient chemical breakdown of toxins and byproducts of intense exercise and recovery.


Cupping For Athletes: Is It Effective?

In recent years, cupping has gained popularity among athletes as a way to relieve pain and improve performance. While there is limited research on the effectiveness of cupping for athletes, some studies have been conducted like the ones discussed below:

  • Cupping therapy has a low to moderate impact on musculoskeletal and sports recovery, according to a 2022 review article in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal recovery. Negative pressure cupping reduces pain while increasing blood flow to the treated areas.
  • Another investigation conducted in 2022 and reported in The Journal of Immunology revealed that cupping therapy helped taekwondo athletes’ post-exercise inflammatory indicators.

Overall, additional research is required to completely understand the benefits and potential hazards of cupping therapy, even if some studies indicate that it may be advantageous for athletes.


Why Do Athletes Choose Cupping Therapy?

Athletes use cupping therapy for a number of reasons in addition to those we’ve already stated. 

  • Improved range of motionCupping therapy can help increase range of motion and flexibility, which is important for athletes who need to move quickly and efficiently.
  • Mental and emotional benefits – Cupping therapy can also have mental and emotional benefits, helping athletes relax and reduce stress.

Which Athletes Are Known For Cupping?

Some athletes who have been known to use cupping techniques include:

  • Michael Phelps – The most famous athlete associated with cupping is undoubtedly the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. He was seen with large, circular marks on his back and shoulders during the 2016 Rio Olympics, which he attributed to cupping.
  • Serena Williams – One of the most successful tennis players of all time, has publicly endorsed the use of cupping therapy as a form of alternative medicine to help her body recover from the physical demands of the sport.
  • Alex Naddour – The American gymnast won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics and credited cupping with helping him provide relief from the soreness and pounding that come from gymnastics.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is cupping for athletes?

The process of cupping for athletes typically involves the following steps:

  • Cup selection – Cups can be made of various materials, including glass, silicone, or plastic. The selection of cups depends on the athlete’s preference and the area of the body being treated.
  • Preparation – The athlete is instructed to lie down on a table or bed, and the area to be treated is cleaned with alcohol and a cotton ball. The cups are then heated using either an open flame or a specialized cupping device to create suction.
  • Cup placement – The cups are then placed on the skin, and the suction creates a vacuum that pulls the skin and muscle upward. The cups are left in place for several minutes, depending on the athlete’s comfort level and the therapist’s recommendation.
  • Cup removal – The cups are removed by breaking the seal, either by pressing on the skin near the cup or by using a specialized cupping tool. The therapist may repeat the cupping process on different areas of the athlete’s body, depending on their needs.

Cupping is generally considered safe when performed by a trained professional. However, athletes should consult with their doctor before trying cupping therapy, particularly if they have any underlying medical conditions or are taking medications that could interact with the therapy.

Why do athletes have cupping done?

Athletes often have cupping done as a form of therapy to help with muscle soreness, stiffness, and pain. Cupping involves creating a vacuum inside small glass cups that are placed on the skin. This suction effect draws blood and other fluids to the surface of the skin, which can promote healing in the muscles, connective tissue, and injuries like plantar fasciitis.

What are the benefits of cupping?

Along with the above mentioned physical advantages, cupping may also be advantageous for mental health, which is essential to athletic performance:

  • Improved sleep – Cupping may help to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia. The relaxation and stress-reducing effects of cupping may help to promote better sleep and reduce sleep disturbances.
  • Enhanced mood – Cupping may help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. The gentle suction and massage-like effect of the cups on the skin may help to release endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in the body, which can improve mood and reduce feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  • Increased self-awareness – Cupping may promote self-awareness and mindfulness. The experience of receiving cupping therapy can be a meditative and introspective one, allowing individuals to tune in to their bodies and become more aware of their thoughts and emotions.

Do professional athletes use cupping?

In general, professional athletes consider cupping therapy as part of their overall recovery and rehabilitation strategy, particularly after strenuous workouts or competitions that may cause muscle soreness and fatigue. Some athletes also use cupping therapy as a pre-competition technique to help them relax and prepare for the event.



Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine that involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. While there is some evidence to suggest that cupping therapy may have benefits for athletes, it is important to note that the research on cupping therapy is still limited and further studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness. 

We appreciate your time spent reading this article. For the most recent information on wellness and health advice, please check back. In order to determine whether cupping therapy is the best course of action for your particular needs, be sure to read our other articles regarding this therapy.


Find It Health Editor in Chief Luz Chacon Health and Wellness Coach Giving You Advice

Luz Chacon

Luz Chacon is a Health Educator, Wellness Coach, and EFT Tapping Practitioner with 30+ years in health advocacy. Specializing in stress management, wellbeing, and holistic health, she created a 40% stress reduction employee program. Luz is dedicated to helping busy individuals prioritize self-care, break patterns, and reach goals. She offers programs for organizations and individuals. Luz is passionate about sharing her health research and guiding informed choices!

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Luz Chacon Health Coaches at Find It Health and Stress Management and Natural Holistic Health Coaches