Article Title



D. Chaves, S. Avena, A. Vahk, K. Taylor

Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

In recent years, cupping therapy has gained popularity as a recovery strategy in athletic settings; however, limited research exists on its benefits to flexibility. Cupping therapy is a common treatment modality in many sports for a variety of different injuries, often favored over traditional massage therapies. Since cupping therapy has shown to be an effective recovery technique, it may also be beneficial to fitness measures, such as flexibility, and other performance variables. PURPOSE: To determine the acute effects of cupping therapy compared to traditional, massage therapy on hamstring flexibility and joint range of motion in collegiate football players. METHODS: Collegiate football players (n=6) were recruited and randomized to one of three groups: massage (n=2), cupping (n=2), and control (n=2). Treatments were administered by certified athletic trainers using standard protocols. Measures of hamstring flexibility, using the sit-and-reach test, and joint range of motion (hip flexion and knee extension), using a goniometer, were measured pre- and post-intervention. Participants received treatments twice a week for two weeks. Data are presented as mean±SD and were analyzed using a 2 (time) x 3 (condition) analysis of variance with an alpha level set at 0.05. RESULTS: There were no differences in hamstring flexibility (p=0.89), hip flexion (p=0.11), or knee extension (p=0.44) across groups. There were no differences within-subjects for hamstring flexibility (pre 35.0±11.6 cm vs. post 33.4±9.2 cm), knee extension (pre 6.1±1.2º vs. post 6.5±1.4º) or hip flexion (pre 110.8±17.9º vs. post 120.0±10.5º) (p>0.05 for all data). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that there were no differences in flexibility following therapeutic treatment in collegiate football players. Cupping was not shown to be superior for flexibility to traditional massage therapy or no therapy control, suggesting it may not be beneficial to fitness measures, such as flexibility. Future research should investigate this relationship in a larger, more diverse sample of athletes, while also determining the benefits of cupping on athletic performance measures, such as power output.

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