Go with the Flow – How Olympians are Improving Blood Flow and How You Can Too

Everyone following the Rio Olympics is ​talking about cupping right now, and it is pretty obvious to see why! Those big circular bruises polka-dotting the backs of our favorite athletes, most notably swimmer and record-holder Michael Phelps, come from an ancient Chinese medicinal technique. ​Traditionally, an open glass sphere is heated by lighting a small branch of cotton inside. This creates a pseudo-suction effect when the mouth of the “cup” is applied to the skin along lines that the Chinese believed circulated chi.

It acts like a massage, except in reverse; instead of pressing down onto your muscles, it pulls on them. Conceptually, the sectioned cupping and regionalized pressure helps increase blood flow and relax muscles. While some are skeptical of its effects due to a lack of solid scientific evidence, Belarusian swimmer ​Pavel Sankovich believes that "cupping is a great recovery tool.” Athletes especially are fascinated by the effects of this technique, because of the way it helps their muscles recover after heavy exercise.

When we exercise, our hearts pump harder to give our muscles the oxygen that they need to work at such a rapid rate. The ​aftereffects of this include a retraction of your muscles, thus hindering blood and oxygen flow; after running a marathon, special on-site personnel make sure that runners do not lay on the ground because their heart might relax too much, causing them to pass out. This retraction is also the main cause of muscle fatigue or stress and can lead to muscle injury especially in athletes. It is also why you should not do the same exercise routine for multiple consecutive days! By improving circulation, cupping helps athletes’ muscles repair faster and better, increasing their ability to work their bodies in the sports and professions that they love.

Improved circulation is also critical to the rest of us. Even though our gold medals may be in littler things like working or taking care of our friends and family, better blood flow means better metabolic processing, regulated body temperature, and a better-nourished you. You can read up on some natural ways to improve your circulation ​here, or ​contact us at Super Good Stuff to talk to a real person in real-time.