Cupping – What Are All Those Red Marks on Michael Phelps?



Cupping – History and Techniques

Cupping has been front and center lately with several Olympic athletes showing off their cupping marks and excitedly chatting about the benefits.  Cupping is an ancient modality (over 2500 years old) that fits under the umbrella of Chinese Medicine.

Cupping has several applications and multiple benefits for the recipient.  It is usually done with glass or plastic cups, or sometimes rubber or other pliable material.  The practitioner will use multiple sizes depending on where on the body, they are being used.   There are many different techniques to using cups, but the desired effect is the same for each technique: to move the energy (Qi) and blood on a deep level, to pull lactic acid build-up out of the muscles, and to remove toxins from the tissue layers of the skin.

Benefits of Cupping

Cupping is a wonderful modality to use on sore, overworked muscles; or tight muscles associated with long work outs or sitting at a desk for hours or in a car for long periods of time.  One can be cupped nearly everywhere, but the main locations involve the back, shoulders, hips, neck and legs.  Cupping brings fresh blood to the surface so that healing can take place more quickly in superficial and muscle layers.  Patients, including professional athletes, benefit tremendously by increasing blood flow to the muscles and areas that have been cupped, therefore creating more movement (energetically) in those areas and facilitating healing and renewal of the tissues.


Cupping can leave dark circles or rings on the body that look like bruises, but they don’t hurt like bruises.  They usually lasts 1-5 days and seem to fade quicker with adequate hydration.  I find that most patients enjoy cupping but some prefer the glass cups over the plastic cups, or vice versa.  All patients seem to enjoy the results, feeling a release in muscle tension, and increased range of motion and an increased ease in the body.

Cupping is one of my favorite modalities to utilize in the clinic room!  Come in today for a free consult or make an appointment (828)707-2590 to see how cupping can help improve your quality of life!