A large portion of our country may have only just now become familiar with the ancient medical art modernly known as “cupping,” but it’s far from being a recent trend. As with so many other things, cupping has gained momentous notoriety in the past several days, thanks to famous athletes sporting their very own circular bruises.  What most Olympic viewers don’t know is that this simple technique has been widely used for centuries in various cultures to stimulate balance and bodily healing. At The YinOva Center here in NYC, we specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which utilizes cupping in conjunction with acupuncture as an effective method to treat a wide variety of conditions.

But given the current spotlight, who can blame people for being curious? When superstar Olympians like Michael Phelps, gymnast Aaron Naddour, and former Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin make this treatment a key part of their athletic recovery, it’s bound to leave a mark (so to speak…).

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However, it’s important to recognize why these athletes choose such a method as part of their training. It’s not to be fashionable, but rather for one simple reason: it’s effective. The idea behind cupping is actually pretty straightforward. Traditionally, cupping techniques use a small flame to heat the interior of a glass cup, creating a vacuum, which is then quickly placed on the skin. A more modern method utilizes a pump attachment to create the vacuum environment, but either technique can create the desired effect.  The skin and superficial fascia of the body are pulled up gently into the cup, stimulating blood circulation to the area.  This results in that famous “hickey-like” mark (or “sha” in Chinese Medical terminology) that has garnered so much attention lately.  Tired muscles and tendons recovering from long training sessions need all the oxygen they can get, and cupping helps to make this happen.  Simply put, more blood plus more oxygen equals the perfect environment for the affected body part to heal.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the use of cupping expands beyond the musculoskeletal system, and can be used in the treatment of conditions such as asthma, emotional stress, menstrual disorders, and so on. It’s an incredibly versatile practice, and integral to this form of medicine.

Of course, those telltale marks may appear quite strange to those who are not familiar with the process, but cupping can provide painless and quick relief for a lot of what life throws your way.  At YinOva, we’re lucky enough to have many amazing practitioners who have years of experience with this method and can perform our Cupping service in NYC.  Whether it be one too many spin classes, or an exhausting week at work, we often utilize this treatment to help patients receive the relief they need.

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