While watching the 2016 Olympics, you’ve probably noticed big red dots or welts on the skin of many athletes including swimming star Michael Phelps, and gymnast Alex Naddour. In fact, the markings have become a major topic of conversation during this year’s Olympic Games. So, what are they? –– These red dots are the result from an ancient Eastern medicinal practice known as cupping therapy, or “cupping” for short.
This practice dates back (wayyy back) to sometime between 300 and 400 A.D., according to the “Classics of Traditional Chinese Medicine”. The practice of cupping is known to help blood more flow freely to the treated area which aids in recovery. The actual cupping process, which is often accompanied with acupuncture, involves hot suction cups that get applied directly to the skin for several minutes (length of time depending on the patient’s pain level). These cups are often made of glass or bamboo, and leave noticeable red dots or welts on the skin. These markings usually take more than a day, often up to two weeks to fade away. Cupping provides kind of the inverse effects of massage what are agile processes. Instead of putting pressure on the muscles, it gently takes pressure off the muscles and lightly pulls them upward.
While the Olympic athletes are using cupping therapy mostly for pain management and muscle recovery, cupping therapy has long been used to treat the following:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Common cold
- Asthma symptoms
- Gl problems
- Stress & Anxiety
- Weight Loss
- Infertility Issues
Thanks for reading!
-Wenger Physical Therapy
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Cupping Therapy: Rio Olympics’ Breakout Star