If you have been watching the 2016 Rio Olympics, you may have noticed red, circular marks on certain athletes. These marks are the result of an alternative therapy known as cupping. While cupping is not a new therapy, it may be a new trend among Team USA members, as well as many people watching the Olympics at home.
What is Cupping?
Cupping is an old therapy that has roots in China, the Middle East, and Egypt. It serves to increase blood flow wherever the cups are applied. Using air or heat to create suction with special cups, a vacuum is created and pulls the skin and blood vessels inside the cup (this explains the purple and reddish marks). While traditional cupping therapists use the technique to help improve circulation, detox the body, and recommend nutritional changes, Western practitioners use it for improved circulation and muscle and joint relaxation.
The man who is bringing attention to cupping in the Olympics is 21-time and counting gold medalist, Michael Phelps. And if he’s doing it, it has to be good, right? He isn’t the only Team USA member who is embracing cupping, though. Swimmer Natalie Coughlin, gymnasts Alex Naddour and Chris Brooks, and Phelps’ teammate Nathan Adrian are other athletes using this therapy at the Rio Olympics. They all claim it is a great alternative to massage therapy.
While cupping is helping Olympic athletes feel relief from muscle and joint pain, studies have shown that it may be a helpful alternative to chronic pain, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and even migraines. Whether or not you decide to try cupping is your decision to make, but it is believed to restore one’s energy or qi (chi). If you do decide to try cupping, it is best to go and see a professional, as opposed to administering the therapy yourself.
It is great to see that alternative therapies are getting attention at the Olympics. Maybe it will encourage people to explore more natural remedies that are out there.