Cupping Therapy & the Olympics

Like many people in the world, we at Boston Chinese Acupuncture have been glued to the 2016 Rio Olympics for the last 2 weeks.  If you have been watching the swimming competition, you would have undoubtedly noticed the circular bruise marks on the body of Michael Phelps.  Images such as this one has sparked a storm of media interest in cupping therapy, a branch of Chinese medicine in which glass cups are heated and stuck on the body through vacuum suction.

Swimming - Men's 200m Butterfly - Heats
Image Source: Getty Images

As with many cases of media scrutiny, we have noticed many misconceptions and unfounded fears about cupping therapy.  Naysayers came out in droves saying that cupping does not work.  Internet commentators fear how much cupping looks like it hurts.

We try to clear up some common fears about cupping therapy in our newest demonstration video.  In China, we use cupping therapy to treat a variety of ailments from mosquito bites to neuropathy.  For the purpose of athletes, the therapeutic function of cupping most relevant to them is the ability of the therapy to move blood flow to their muscles.  The bruises themselves are an indication of this increased blood flow.

As you will see in our demonstration, cupping really isn’t as scary as it seems and if Michael Phelps trusts it to help him become the most decorated Olympian in history, we think it’s worth a try!