Is cupping therapy effective among athletes?

February 13, 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Swimmer Michael Phelps's continued dominance at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics was accompanied by worldwide awareness of cupping. Cupping therapy has re-emerged as a potential approach to boost post-exercise metabolic recovery, reduce pain, and improve range of motion by increasing local microcirculation. But what does science tell us about the effectiveness or safety of cupping? A new systematic review that examines the results of eleven clinical trials encompassing nearly 500 participants is published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM).

Romy Lauche, University of Technology (Sydney, Australia) and colleagues from Endeavour College of Natural Health (Fortitude Valley, Australia) and University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany) coauthored the article entitled "Effects of Cupping Therapy in Amateur and Professional Athletes—Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials." Despite some reports of benefits, including some related to reduced pain and disability, the authors found the reports uneven and found a high risk of bias in the trial designs. They therefore determined that no conclusive recommendations for or against the value of cupping in sports performance can be made until further trials are carried out.

Co-author Lauche states: "Cupping therapy is a classic example in which research lags behind clinical practice. We are confident that this will point out the need for and encourage further high-quality research of cupping, a therapy which has been around for millennia."

"This systematic review by Lauche and her international team squarely place this in evidence limbo," says JACM Editor-in-Chief John Weeks, johnweeks-integrator.com, Seattle, WA. He adds: "There is evidence here for advocates, evidence for detractors, and for researchers - that we need more of it!"

Explore further: Olympics: Phelps gives 'cupping' a boost in China

More information: Rhianna Bridgett et al, Effects of Cupping Therapy in Amateur and Professional Athletes: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1089/acm.2017.0191

Related Stories

Olympics: Phelps gives 'cupping' a boost in China

August 11, 2016
Star US swimmer Michael Phelps has captured headlines in Rio's Olympic pool this week for his astonishing lifetime haul of gold medals, and for the curious red circles on his shoulder.

Olympic Games shine a light on the 'cupping' technique

August 12, 2016
With the start of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the use of the ancient 'cupping' technique by various athletes, to supposedly improve their recovery time and allow for better performance, has been one of ...

Does 'cupping' = success for Olympic athletes?

August 8, 2016
(HealthDay)—Eyebrows raised in Rio over the weekend when Olympic athletes like swimmer Michael Phelps started showing up with circular purple bruises on different parts of their bodies.

What's that bruise on Michael Phelps' shoulder?

August 15, 2016
Beyond his gold standard accomplishments in the pool, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has garnered widespread attention in recent days for the dark circular markings on his shoulders and back.

Can CranioSacral therapy improve symptoms of concussion and mild TBI among football players?

January 9, 2018
This invited commentary references a preliminary study in which the integrative medicine technique known as CranioSacral Therapy (CST) was tested on a group of ex-National Football League (NFL) players who showed significant ...

Is Chinese massage an effective and cost-effective treatment for chronic neck pain?

December 18, 2017
A new study evaluating a form of Chinese massage, tuina, in patients with chronic neck pain found it to be effective, safe, and cost-effective compared to no treatment. The study, which assessed intensity of neck pain, disability, ...

Recommended for you

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Survey reveals how we use music as a possible sleep aid

November 14, 2018
Many individuals use music in the hope that it fights sleep difficulties, according to a study published November 14 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tabitha Trahan of the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues. ...

Colder, darker climates increase alcohol consumption and liver disease

November 14, 2018
Where you live could influence how much you drink. According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, people living in colder regions with less sunlight drink more alcohol than their ...

Want to cut down on your meds? Your pharmacist can help.

November 14, 2018
Pharmacists are pivotal in the process of deprescribing risky medications in seniors, leading many to stop taking unnecessary sleeping pills, anti-inflammatories and other drugs, a new Canadian study has found.

No accounting for these tastes: Artificial flavors a mystery

November 13, 2018
Six artificial flavors are being ordered out of the food supply in a dispute over their safety, but good luck to anyone who wants to know which cookies, candies or drinks they're in.

Your heart hates air pollution. Portable filters could help

November 13, 2018
Microscopic particles floating in the air we breathe come from sources such as fossil fuel combustion, fires, cigarettes and vehicles. Known as fine particulate matter, this form of air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.