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What is Cupping and why the Rio Olympic athletes use it?

I don’t know if you are a sports fan or not, but I am and I wanted to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the athletes competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with mysterious purple, round blotches on their bodies, especially the back or the shoulders. It was very ostensible with swimmers and Michael Phelps was the leading trooper that re-ignited this discussion. What are those, people asked?
It is an ancient technique called Cupping and it’s been used traditionally around the globe because of its effectiveness and safeness. Its origin is shrouded in mystery. None knows where it actually originated. It was documented in Asia, Middle East, Northern Africa, and American First Nations throughout history. Now called Cupping Therapy, also called Suction Cup Therapy, or Fire Cupping, or Chinese Cupping Therapy it as mostly associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine and many Eastern practitioners use Cupping in their daily treatment protocols. I use it too sometimes in our clinic, here are the details.
Cupping therapy has been effectively used to treat lung and respiratory conditions, including asthma symptoms and the common cold. In fact, respiratory ailments are among the earliest recorded conditions for which cupping therapy was deemed beneficial.
The technique is done by lighting flammable liquid (alcohol) in a glass cup. The flame burns away the oxygen in the cup, which creates a mild vacuum. Once the flame goes out, the vacuum creates suction which sticks the cup to the body. You need to do it fast before the vacuum starts disappearing.
Along with the drop in temperature, this sucks the skin away from the body and draws blood to the surface. The red/velvet spots, which typically last for three or four days, are caused by ruptured capillaries beneath the skin. The cup is typically left in place for 5 to 15 minutes at a time and the therapist may choose to use several cups on different points at the same time. Patients receiving cupping therapy can be rest assured that there is rarely any burning of the skin. Just those eye-catching red marks that that have been so visible on Phelps as well as members of the United States men’s gymnastics team. If the bruising effect looks oddly familiar, it’s because it’s the same thing that happens when someone sucks on your neck and leaves a hickey.
Why are the athletes doing it?
Athletes say they are using it to ease aches and pains, and to help with recovery from the physical drudgery of constant training and competing. It’s just another recovery modality and there is nothing particular about it, we were told by the USA team. It is safe, it helps them and it is fast. It makes them feel better and that is enough for most of them.
Supporters of this technique also believe that cupping therapy can reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body. Cupping can also promote mental and physical relaxation and well-being.
Or, as someone has put it …very funny!!…Michael Phelps just fell asleep on his medals!!!!

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