The Olympic Games is richly inspiring to watch athletes from all walks of life devoted and passionate about their sport of choice. This year, eyes turned once again to Michael Phelps as he succeeded in winning an astonishing 28 medals in his Olympic career. Throughout his events many people noticed the circular bruises which dominated his skin. Upon closer inspection of the games it became clear that he was not the only Athlete who sported these strange bruises. Many contestants competing in various sports also displayed these marks. Before long the ancient medical art of Cupping was quickly brought into the spotlight.
Cupping dates back as far as 3000 BC according to some scholars and was practiced by many cultures including the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. It is also considered one of the earliest forms of recorded traditional Chinese medicine. In the ancient days of cupping the physician would use clay pots, bamboo segments or hollow animal horns as the cup. Using fire to remove the air, the cup would then be placed on target areas of the skin creating a vacuum that would draw up the patient’s tissue. Today glass cups are preferred because you are able to see the degree of suction in the cup by the amount of tissue drawn in.
Cupping is used to treat many conditions and is not limited to physical therapy as seen in the Olympics. In my opinion, cupping is successful because it stimulates your body’s own innate ability to heal itself. With strong suction applied to the skin some of the capillaries rupture creating the characteristic circular bruising. This painless damage moves blood and lymph and signals to the body to send healing cells to the area. These healing cells clear and clean the area speeding the healing process and restoring optimal function. This action not only helps athletes recover, but has also been used for thousands of years in treating colds, fevers, headache, digestion trouble, and many other conditions because of its stimulating effects.
Although cupping is considered safe, some people should avoid cupping such as individuals with bleeding conditions or other clotting disorders. Pregnant women should also not have cupping over the abdomen or lower back. For most people however, cupping can be an excellent way to heal the body without the need of medications which often bring with them various side effects and consequences. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time has seen the benefits of cupping. If you have not tried it yet, now is the time.