Cupping Like an Olympian

As Michael Phelps made his fourth Olympic appearance in Rio – many questioned what were those giant purple spots all over his body.

Turns out they are the results of cupping, an ancient practice of using suction.

“It allows for circulation and blood flow if there are any kind of blockages. It helps the neuro-system flow as well because once you have good nutrition flow then there is enough oxygen reaching the cells and the body can heal correctly,” said Murtaza Hameed, a local Chiropractic Physician.

I made my way to Awra Chiropractic to check it out for myself.

Similar to a massage, cupping releases tension in muscles, however instead of kneading the muscle, it bursts capillaries in the designated area to increase blood flow thus the bruising.

“The bruise is because you’re increasing circulation of blood, capillary infiltrate to the area, which will then allow for any of the negative scar tissue, adhesion any kind of injury or micro stress any trauma, that’s going to clear it out so that it can heal properly,” said Hameed.

Increased blood flow isn’t the only reason athletes are turning to cupping while they compete, there are a few other benefits as well.

“With cupping there aren’t a lot of side effects and it is only focused on where they need it. So usually they will do it in their shoulders or legs depends on the sport. If they are runners the legs and the shoulders for swimming like Michael Phelps. So a lot of times they will do it because it helps them heal the muscle more quickly with the least amount of side effects,” said Hameed.

Many who practice modern medicine disagree with cupping, saying there isn’t enough proof the method works.

Naperville News 17’s Natalie Vitale reports.

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