Mets pitcher, Matt Harvey, recently started using cupping therapy, an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine. Mets Relief pitcher, Vic Black, has been a proponent of cupping therapy for more than two years. “It’s something I can feel immediate relief from,” said Harvey, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John elbow-ligament replacement surgery.
The sudden proliferation of cupping within the Mets and other major-league teams illustrates the lengths to which professional athletes will go to try to stay in top physical shape.
“As an athlete, I want to play as long as possible,” said Matsuzaka, the 33-year-old right-hander who started cupping about two years ago. “In order to do that, I need to find ways to protect my body. I’m always looking for something that might be better.”
The millennia-old art of cupping traditionally involved using a flame to create a vacuum inside a glass bulb, which is then applied to the skin for as long as 15 minutes. Blood is pulled to the area, providing relief of tight, sore muscles. Some believe that cupping can also help with arthritis, eczema and migraine headaches, among other ailments. Massage cupping is a gentler form of cupping, using an electrical suction pump to create a consistent vacuum.
Nick Paparesta, the trainer for the Oakland Athletics, said in an interview that virtually the entire A’s roster has undergone
cupping therapy at some point this season. Paparesta called it a “twofold solution” because it can provide both immediate and long-term relief of lower back or oblique tightness, and can be done post-surgery to help reduce scarring.
Yuliya Chernyak, a Manhattan-based licensed acupuncturist who performs cupping therapy on athletes, said the therapy works to relieve muscle stiffness and pain, reduce swelling and even treat illness because it “loosens up the mucous, increases circulation, stimulates lungs and helps to fight the infection.”
When done correctly, cupping isn’t painful, though the patient may feel pressure and residual soreness afterward.
“We pull muscles out and increase circulation,” Chernyak said. “It removes toxins and brings all the stagnant blood and waste from deep within the tissue to the surface so that it will be easily eliminated.”
Several Mets have noticed the results, including decreased soreness after the games.
Not every Met has gotten on board. Injured reliever Bobby Parnell, for one, said he doesn’t expect to try it. But the players who have tried it seem unconcerned about the debate as to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the practice. “I’ve had it done on myself, and I feel the difference,” Matsuzaka said. “I feel that it loosens up my muscles, and I feel that it’s effective.”
In other words, if the players think cupping works, then cupping works. For the most part, the Mets’ players echoed that sentiment. Though they insist that cupping does have a physical effect, they also recognize the mental aspect. Black, one of the team’s most ardent supporters of the treatment, said, “The placebo effect is a lot more powerful than people realize.”
Said Harvey, “If I went in and did it and just saw a bunch of circles on my back and it didn’t actually feel better after I did it, then I wouldn’t do it.”
Try it for yourself! I can offer you a five minute demo of massage cupping with any treatment except raindrop. If you like it, I’ll use it. If you don’t, I won’t. Every massage is your time on the table, so please help me tailor it so that you get the treatment you like. Schedule at www.MassageByLesley.com