If you watched even a small portion of the 2016 Rio Olympics, then you most likely heard talk of cupping therapy. Gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps brought cupping therapy to the forefront when he arrived to the Olympic Games with purple circular marks on his skin. It only took a few minutes for the entire Twitter and Facebook world to spark up discussions about the marks, and we now have the answers.
What is Cupping Therapy?
This type of medical treatment has actually been used since ancient times, as far back as 3,500 years ago in Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese cultures. The process involves placing suction cups onto the skin. The suction causes surface capillaries in the skin to break, which is what forms the perfectly circular purple bruise marks. The suction force itself can come from a heating and cooling effect or a mechanical power.
One targeted area receives between three and seven suction cups for just a few minutes. Some people only receive one treatment, but others return for more. The cups themselves can be made from a variety of materials like glass, bamboo, or ceramic. Most modern suction cups used in cupping therapy are made of plastic or glass.
What are the Benefits of Cupping Therapy?
It may sound strange to purposefully cause yourself a noticeable injury in order to be healthier, but this treatment is very popular! Cupping is believed to resolve a number of medical issues, like anxiety, depression, acne, and migraines. However, when it comes to the Olympics, this therapy drew the attention of athletes for its reputation of preventing the damage of stressed muscles and accelerating the recovery process for soft tissue injuries.
Though cupping therapy is definitely used by a number of major athletes, it is still important to talk to your doctor about the treatment before you begin. Make sure you understand the entire process and its effects.