Olympic athletes, including the legendary Olympian Michael Phelps, have been sporting large purple welts on their skin during the Rio de Janerio games, sparking curiosity among fans. So, what’s the story behind these marks? They’re a result of an ancient Chinese healing practice known as cupping, and it’s achieving new popularity among swimmers and gymnasts, particularly from Team USA.

How Does Cupping Work?

The treatment has been used for ages, across many cultures. As a form of acupuncture, cupping is believed to treat ailments, draw out toxins, soothe muscle pain, solve skin problems, and mobilize blood flow. The procedure is done by lighting flammable liquid in 10 or so glass cups and placing them on top of the skin, leaving what appears to be large love bites. Olympic athletes aren’t the only ones who have taken advantage of this age-old medicinal technique. Cupping shot to popularity in 2004 when actress, Gwyneth Paltrow, attended a film premier with cupping marks on her back. The celebrity trend continued, with Jennifer Anniston and Victoria Beckham among those who donned the circular marks.

Is Cupping Safe?

As viewers at home see some of the world’s top athletes turning to alternative medicine to boost their performance, many may wonder how safe it is and if it actually works. According to the executive director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine, Dr. Melinda Ring, “Because of the way cupping works, it accelerates the process and is very localized. Generally it’s a pretty safe thing to do and can potentially be beneficial, but it should not be done at home by somebody who doesn’t have any experience.” In addition, several studies suggest cupping can provide added benefits when combined with acupuncture and chiropractic care.

Is Cupping Therapy Right for You?

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to benefit from cupping. This type of treatment is beneficial for anyone who wants to improve their health, and at Total Health Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Center, we understand how important your health is. Start your cupping therapy today and begin to feel the difference. Contact our Florham Park, NJ office today at 973.377.6327 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.