Rio Olympics 2016: Cupping Therapy With Michael Phelps

Right after the 4×100 meters American men’s relay team won the gold, Michael Phelps leaned over to help anchorman Nathan Adrian to climb out of the pool. One of the spectacular scenes in Rio Olympics.

However, while Phelps was doing so millions of viewers across the globe watching the Rio Olympics at home, saw several purple dots on his shoulder and back.

Is this a new kind of tattoo Phelps had specially done for Rio Olympics? Or is it that the 31 years old Michael Phelps, who is swimming his 5th Olympics- slept on a bed of tennis balls?

No either way you are wrong, the circles on Phelps back are the result of Cupping!

Cupping is an age-old Chinese therapy technique that people often use to help their muscles recover and perform at their best.

Cupping was developed thousands of years ago and though the techniques have modernized, the original philosophy remains the same.

Rather than applying pressure to the muscles, cupping therapist’s heats small glass cups and then places them on the skin and pulls them from the body to loosen and relax the muscles.

As the suction uses pressure to pull the skin, tissue and muscles upward it not only enhances circulation, but also help relieve pain, remove “heat” and pull out the toxins that are lingering in your body’s soft tissues.

You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Often, this sensation is relaxing and soothing. Depending on your comfort and your practitioner’s assessment of the problem, cups may be moved around or left in place. They may remain on your body briefly or for longer amounts of time. One very common area to be cupped is the back, although cups work well on other areas, too- particularly on any fleshy sections of the body.

Cupping causes the skin to temporarily turn red, blue or purple, especially if there is an injury or energetic blockage under the area that was cupped. This skin discoloration can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, but is rarely painful. Once these marks have cleared, the procedure can be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.

There are a number of methods of cupping- however, the two most common are “fixed cupping” and “moving cupping.”

Fixed Cupping:

The cups are placed on a selected area of your body and then left in place without being moved.

Moving Cupping:

As the name implies, in this method your practitioner applies massage oil or cream on your skin in selected places, puts the cups over the areas to be treated and then slides them around that region of the body- most commonly on the back. The cups slide easily because the cream has lubricated your body.

It may be remembered at this juncture, Wang Qun, a Chinese swimmer also proudly showed off her, cupping marks, much like Michael Phelps, during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Always looking for methods to naturally improve health and performance, more athletes have turned to cupping in 2016.

Health Benefits of Cupping

Cupping has numerous benefits- it can help remove toxins from the body and stimulate the flow of fresh blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area and throughout the body. It often works wonders for patients with the flu, colds, coughs, back and muscle pain, poor circulation, anxiety, red itchy skin conditions (though cups are not applied to inflamed areas), allergies, fevers, aches and myriad other pains.

Cupping is not exclusive to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Variations of this treatment were used by ancient Egyptians, North American Indians, the early Greeks, and in other Asian and European countries. Cupping therapy was also recommended by Hippocrates, the man whom many consider to be the “Father of Modern Medicine,” in his guide to clinical treatment.


It should be noted that cupping is not to be used on patients who bleed easily and/or cannot stop bleeding, have skin ulcers, or edema. It is unwise to cup over large blood vessels as well. Moreover, pregnant women should be cupped with extreme caution and never on their abdomen or lower back.

End Note:

Cupping is not just for athletes … cupping is highly beneficial for everyone.

Some experts are skeptical of the treatment’s effectiveness. But as the proof of the pie is always in eating. Go ahead and try it out on yourself now! Enjoy an increased openness to new therapeutic experiences and on the same pace enjoy Rio Olympics 2016.