What’s with all the big, red, bruise-like circles on so many Olympic athletes at Rio? Mostly donned by members of the American Olympic team, the circles are from an alternative health treatment known simply as, “cupping”. Originating from a Chinese medical technique, centuries old, cupping involves pressing hot cups (or jars – plastic or glass) on an individual’s body, creating a suction that apparently helps to enhance the blood flow to areas where these jars are applied. Gymnasts and swimmers have reported that this “cupping” technique relieves soreness on their bodies, as the cups are strategically placed in the area or a region where athletes are experiencing pain or discomfort while training. MSN reported that the technique apparently helps an athlete to remain on course with workouts and training, despite any potential aliments; something that many Olympians take quite seriously, as they are heading up to Games.
But does cupping actually provide, what these Olympians are stating, or is it simply a new, overpriced fad, that seems to be over-hyped?
There are no proven facts that back up the results of this alternative therapy being effective, with scientist skeptical of what the true pain-relieving benefits are. One could point out, that perhaps the entire process and actual nature of it all, is the root of why it has become “the thing to do” when it comes to stress, pain, and the ability to comfort one’s body. It almost forces an athlete (or anyone who’s is partaking in the technique) to lie down, and relax; which can be an excellent stress-reliever for anyone who is under pressure. The suction of the jars also helps to relieve tension and stress; something which most hard-training Olympic athletes suffer immensely from. Thanks to celebrity advocates, like Gwenth Paltrow and Jennifer Anniston; one person on an Olympic team may have tried it out, and the rest followed suit; almost ever athlete at the Games is looking to reduce their pain and stress before Games, as we all know what kind of pressure these Olympians face before and during competition.
So, while the science world is baffled by the currently popularity of cupping, perhaps it ultimately provides some marginal gains to athletes in the long run; small adjustments, which may go hand-in-hand with other techniques, to help provide a larger improvement, as it relates to the body.
While some naysayers may question actual benefits of cupping, if Michael Phelps is a fan … who are we to judge?