What is Cupping?

The latest therapy trend after the 2016 Olympics

You have all witnessed as you watched the Summer 2016 Olympics when Michael Phelps made his debut at the Brazilian swimming pool. Many were in awe when the media focused on the numerouspurple circles located around Phelp’s shoulders. The circles as the media mentioned are from an alternative therapy technique called, “Cupping”. Cupping has been used for many centuries; this ancient technique utilizes glass cups or bulbs to adhere to the patient’s skin, either through suction or vacuum. The purpose of the cup suction is to aid with a patient’s complaint of pain, a lack of blood flow to a targeted area, improve relaxation to the surrounding muscles and be used as a form of deep tissue massage.

The suction of each cup typically lasts for a few minutes, but in those couple of minutes is enough time to cause the capillaries of the skin to rupture, creating the circular, bruises that have been so visible on Phelps and on the athletes at the 2016 Olympics.The bruising effect would be the same as someone giving you a hickey.

Physiologically, cupping is thought to draw blood to the affected area, reducing soreness and speeding healing of overworked muscles. Athletes swear by it, saying it keeps them injury free and speeds recovery.

While many athletes, coaches and trainers believe in this form of treatment, there’s not much strong evidence/research to determine whether cupping offers a real physiological benefit.

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