Cupping: Why Olympic Athletes Are Sporting Red Spots

Traditional Chinese therapy is aimed at alleviating pain

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You many have noticed that several of the U.S. Olympic swimmers and gymnasts are dotted with large, reddish-purple, perfectly circular spots. It’s not some new kind of sports tattoo. It’s the mark of a traditional Chinese therapy aimed at promoting healing: cupping.

Athletes will use cupping because it helps to promote blood flow in the area and forces an inflammatory response, which encourages the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Athletes often have overuse injuries and cupping helps facilitate the recovery process and reduce pain. So it’s a good addition to their general sports medicine routine.

If you go overseas to any of the Asian hospitals you’ll see this modality being done quite regularly on patients, often for other medical conditions.

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If you think you’d like to try cupping, make sure it’s being done by someone who is trained in this modality of treatment. Problems can occur if you leave the cups on too long. Seek out an acupuncturist who is licensed by your state. They will be fully trained and have the skill set to safely and effectively apply cupping.

Read more expert advice from Jamie Starkey, LAc, on her blog.

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