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Michael Phelps & Cupping – What is It & What Are the Benefits?

Michael Phelps & Cupping – What is It & What Are the Benefits?

Like many people watching the 2016 Olympics in Rio, you may have noticed the bright red, circular spots on Michael Phelps’ back and shoulders and wondered what they were.  Although Phelps was the most talked about, many of the athletes participating in this summer’s games were also taking advantage of this alternative therapy known as cupping.  So what is cupping, and why would someone take advantage of it?

Cupping is an ancient form of alternative therapy in which cups made of glass, bamboo or earthenware are placed on the skin to create a strong suction.  Proponents of the therapy believe the suction and resulting vacuum creates a stronger blood flow to certain areas that need healing.  For example, the areas that Phelps was trying to heal were probably related to a shoulder injury brought on by swimming for so many years. 

The most modern version of cupping uses a silicon cup and rubber pump to create the vacuum.  The skin rises and reddens, thus creating the blood flow.  In the modern version of cupping, the cups are moved from place to place, creating a more massage-like effect. 

Although the reports of cupping are generally anecdotal in nature, the practice has been around for roughly 2,000 years, and the Olympic athletes report that it helps immensely with recovery time.  The marks that appeared on Phelps generally disappear in 2-4 days.

Cupping is often used in conjunction with massage for those who take a more alternative approach to medicine and injury, and we always promote massage for a healthy recovery for athletes.  While we ourselves don’t offer cupping, Elements will gladly work with anyone who is looking to add massage to their alternative therapy routine, and help increase the benefits of therapies like cupping. We work with many athletes of all levels who utilize massage, and see the benefits it provides them for both injury rehab and recovery from the normal wear and tear of their sport.

Call us today to schedule your introductory massage and save $30 off the normal price of $89!  Our therapists look forward to helping you with your individual needs, and educating you on the benefits of alternative therapies and massage in particular.

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