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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Reporter Tries Out Cupping, With Props to Michael Phelps

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 3:30 PM

How cupping works - DREAMSTIME
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  • How cupping works
Michael Phelps may have earned his 23rd round medal at Rio recently, but it was the round marks on his back — and on the body parts of fellow Olympians — that have earned raised eyebrows at the 2016 Games. The New York Times compared Phelps to a Dalmatian; the Dallas Morning News described the crimson circles “as if a school of large catfish had latched onto his skin underwater and left him with hickeys.”

By now, everyone knows that the purple dots are a result of cupping. And according to the Washington Post, it was big with top-level athletes long before Phelps brought it to our attention. Far from a new trend, it's actually an ancient form of alternative medicine that uses suction to improve blood flow, reduce soreness and speed healing. For Olympians who bounce from event to event like Ping Pong balls, cupping can be a quick way to recuperate for the next bout.

After hours of watching Rio 2016 swimming, the only soreness I felt was in my eyeballs, and maybe in my heart. (Hubba-hubba, Ryan Lochte!) Still, as an athlete myself, I was curious to experiment with the practice. Would it relieve my chronically stiff muscles, the result of too little stretching? Would I emerge like a spotted salamander?

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