Three years ago, during the last Summer Olympics in Rio the world watched as Michael Phelps made his return to the swimming pool. However, this time his debut was different. Phelps was sporting several circular spots on his body, a result of Massage Cupping. After his first appearance, cupping was a hot topic of discussion, but what do we know about this treatment?

How does cupping work?

Massage cupping is an alternative therapy practice originating in ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures. During cupping therapy, a therapist will place special cups on the skin to create a strong suction. The cups are often made out of materials like glass, silicone, or sometimes even bamboo.

In more traditional cupping practices, a therapist will light a flammable substance, such as herbs, alcohol or paper in the cup. Once the fire has gone out, the cup is placed upside-down on the skin. As the cup cools, it creates a vacuum that causes the suction on the skin.

In more modern cupping practices, a therapist will use a rubber pump to create a vacuum inside the cup. Therapists will also use silicone cups on the skin which allow the cups to easily move around the body and create a more massage-like feel.

The suction is what causes the discoloration because of the blood vessels right below the skin breaks. This is why Michael Phelps appeared to have circles all over his body.

There are two different methods of cupping: dry and wet. During dry cupping, the cup is simply put on the skin. However, during wet cupping, a small cut will be made to the skin before placing the cup to draw blood.

Why should someone try cupping?

More commonly, cupping is used to help ease soreness in the muscles, which is likely why Phelps had this therapy. But therapists also report that cupping can be beneficial in healing the following and more…

  • Migraines
  • Back and neck pain
  • Sciatica
  • Acne and hives
  • Arthritis

Massage cupping can also improve the overall blood flow in the body. The areas where the cups are placed can help overall blood circulation in the body.

Try cupping yourself at The Peace Within Spa!

Interested in trying cupping to relieve your pain? You’re in luck! At The Peace Within Spa, we have trained therapists in massage cupping who are ready to help. Before coming to the spa, please check with your doctor to see if massage cupping is a therapy suggested for you.