If you’ve been watching the Olympics in Rio, especially swimming or track and field, you’ve probably noticed dark red circles on many athletes. These circles are made by a traditional Chinese medical treatment called cupping, a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars placed on the skin. Heat causes these cups to suction on to the skin, causing the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is sort of like the inverse of massage–rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes.
Famed swimmer Michael Phelps, Belarusian and Lithuanian swimmers Pavel Sankovich and Ruta Meilutyte, and US gymnast Alexander Naddour, among others, have all been seen with the marks of cupping, which usually fade within a few days after treatment. Sankovich posted a photo of his legs covered in cups earlier this summer, stating that “cupping is a great recovery tool,” and Phelps even featured them in his striking Under Armour commercial earlier this year. It may be a new procedure for many, but the history of its use in China goes back millennia, and it’s not uncommon in modern America either. Denver Broncos player DeMarcus Ware and celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to David Arquette have been seen with the marks recently, and Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, with campuses in San Diego, New York, and Chicago, has been teaching its use for thirty years.
Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system. It’s also used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. The treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
For more about cupping and its health benefits, call (877) 764-2694 or visit www.PacificCollege.edu. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine is one of the leading schools in the nation for acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and massage, where students earn from a certificate up to a Doctoral degree. PCOM has campuses in San Diego, New York, and Chicago, and hosts the annual Pacific Symposium conference. PCOM is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).