Cupping and the injured athlete: Does it work?
The first time I ever heard about cupping was when my friend’s mom told me she had done it with her son at a local spa. She claimed that it helped him get over his shoulder problems. At the time I didn’t pay much attention to her story, but after reading other stories online about its benefits, I decided to give it a try myself. My initial experience wasn’t very positive.
I went to a local spa called “Sapphire Spa” located in Los Angeles. I paid $30 for the treatment which included two treatments per day (which lasted about three hours each). The whole time I was there, I felt like something was wrong with me.
I couldn’t focus or concentrate well enough to do anything except sit around and stare at my hands while they were being massaged.
The massage therapist seemed really nice though so maybe it worked?
After my second session, I started feeling better. But then the next day, I still felt worse than before. So I went back to the spa and asked if they could change me into some sort of rubber suit so that I wouldn’t feel any pain anymore. They refused saying that it would just make things harder for them since their business depended on having customers come in and not getting hurt themselves! After arguing with them for about an hour, they called the police on me saying that I was being abusive towards them. Ironically, it was the police who advised me to go see a local psychiatrist to get anti-depressants.
So after four visits, I ended up having to pay almost $600 for an hour long session with a psychiatrist and a three month supply of Zoloft tablets (which didn’t do anything for me). I tried to explain the situation to my insurance company, but they wouldn’t cover it saying that I was only receiving “standard medical care”.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. But after all my experiences with cupping, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is suffering from an injury or pain.
What happened to me might have been a rare case, but it could happen to you too!
On the other hand, lots of folks seem to have success with cupping. But I think that they would have had just as much (if not more) success with other treatments. For example, if I hadn’t gone to the “Sapphire Spa”, I probably would have benefited from taking a trip to a local lake or beach.
It certainly would have been a more enjoyable experience and wouldn’t have cost me an arm and a leg.
So after considering all the facts, my advice would be:
Try it at your own risk. Don’t spend too much money. And don’t expect it to cure all your ills!
Other pages of interest
Sources & references used in this article:
National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: acute management of the cervical spine–injured athlete by EE Swartz, BP Boden, RW Courson… – Journal of athletic …, 2009 – meridian.allenpress.com
Effects of cupping therapy in amateur and professional athletes: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials by R Bridgett, P Klose, R Duffield, S Mydock… – The Journal of …, 2018 – liebertpub.com
Effect of moxibustion therapy plus cupping on exercise-induced fatigue in athletes by D Sun, Y Zhang, D Chen, A Zhang, M Xu, Z Li… – Journal of Acupuncture …, 2012 – Springer