The 2016 Olympics are almost over and one of the hottest topics have been the purple marks seen on Michael Phelps. Many wondered what they were, and finally chiropractors came out to let us know that Phelps has been receiving cupping therapy to help him recover throughout his training for the Olympics.
If you are looking at some different alternative therapies, the chances are that you have heard a little bit about cupping what it can do to help with recovery. Cupping is a form of treatment dating back to ancient times where a therapist will put individual cups in targeted areas on your skin for a period to create suction. People will usually get this done for some purposes, including help with inflammation, pain, relaxation, blood flow, well-being and of course, recovery.
When cupping takes place, the therapist will put a flammable substance, like alcohol, paper or herbs in the cup and then light it on fire. Once the fire goes out, the therapist will then put the cup upside down on top of your skin. While the air that is inside of the cup cools, it will create a vacuum. This will cause the skin to redden and rise while your blood vessels expand. Usually, the cup will be left in place for just a few minutes.
There is also a more modernized version of cupping that utilizes a rubber pump instead of the fire to help create the vacuum on the inside. Some therapists will use silicone cups, which they can then move from place to place over your skin for an effect that is similar to massage.
Wet cupping is another method that creates a mild suction, just by leaving the cup in place for about 2-3 minutes. Therapists can then remove the cup and will use a small scalpel or needles to create breaks in the skin. There can then be another round of suction that will draw out a small amount of blood.
The goal for such a cupping procedure is to help remove toxins and other harmful substances from your body to help with recovery and healing. Depending on where you go, you could also get needle cupping, where your therapist will insert acupuncture needles and then put the cups on top of them for the suction process.
Once you are done with the suction and skin breaks to bring out the toxins, you will usually get some antibiotic cream or ointment and bandages just to make sure that the region is taken care of. You can then talk with your therapist about the best time to come back for repeat toxin removal and recovery until you can get the results that you are looking for.