Experts reveal Olympic swimmers’ ‘cupping’ therapy method

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Wright State University’s Assistant Athletic Trainer Brad Muse stopped by 5 on 2 Tuesday, along with university swimmer Mitchell Stover to demonstrate and explain the practice of cupping.

The dark red circles are left behind after the method — designed to increase blood flow and allow muscles to recover faster — and certainly catches the eye.

The circles appearing on the arms, legs and backs of U.S. athletes like Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin and Alex Naddour result from a practice called cupping.

Standard cupping involves a glass cup and a flammable substance which heats the cup while it’s on the skin. When the flame goes out, suction is created.

In more modern cupping, called “air” cupping, a suction pump is attached to the cup, creating the vacuum-type pull on the skin, according to Acupuncture Today. Sometimes the skin is punctured before air cupping to draw out a small amount of blood. That’s known as “wet cupping.”

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