cupping, Michael Phelps, 2016 Summer Olympics, Swimming

By Adam Bookbinder

The Summer Olympics are in full swing, and making a familiar appearance is Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Michael Phelps.

If you watched his performance in Rio the other day, you may have noticed some bruise marks all over his back and shoulders.  This has many people wondering what happened and why he was all marked up.

Well there’s no need to worry.  He’s not being abused.

Instead, those marks are caused by what’s called cupping.  It’s a form of Chinese therapy where heated glass suction cups are placed on the skin to help release tension from muscles and stimulate energy.

The glass cups are heated up using a flammable liquid or some other incendiary device, which is ignited, allowing the glass to heat up.  It’s then placed (once the flame is out) on the skin for about 10 minutes, and as it cools it creates a vaccuum which “causes the skin to rise and redden as blood vessels expand.”


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