After the 2016 Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps had yet again collected an incredible amount of gold medals. However, during the games instead of asking how is race went, reporters were asking why was he covered in bruises? The answer is called ‘cupping therapy.’ Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine that is commonly found in traditional Chinese Medicine. This therapy includes special cups that suction on your skin for a few minutes. This heated-suction helps with pain, inflammation, blood flow, and relaxation. These cups stay in the same place anytime from five to fifteen minutes in order to draw blood to the area, allowing the overworked muscles to heal quicker.
According to the research coordinator at the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Anna Colacino explains cupping can be very helpful for athletes. “Athletes tend to overuse their bodies which can create tight muscles and spasms. Cupping can help reduce these issues because it works deeper by loosening muscles, deep tissue release and increase in circulation.”
As Michael Phelps and the US Olympic team spiked the conversation about cupping therapy, it seems to have taken the athletic training world by storm with other Olympic, professional and collegiate athletes. This interesting new therapy has even been brought to Marist through our athletic training facilities.
Marist Lacrosse player Frank Brier reacts to his first cupping experience this fall, “I had a few buddies of mine try it after they were very sore from a hard lift and they had great success so I decided to give it a try. Honestly it felt amazing, I felt as if I had more movement after a work out than I ever had before.”
Marist College Coordinator of Sports Medicine, Jeffery Carter explains that after the 2016 Olympics everyone was talking about cupping and he decided to do some research. “I reached out to a friend of mine at Michigan University training facility for some more information about cupping. He explained all the benefits and that student-athletes have responded very positively to the new-found magic cups.”
All the Athletic trainers and athletic training students have been trained to perform cupping therapy because it has become such a high demand, especially with the Marist swimming team.
Sophomore Marist swimmer Michael Presta has been cupping for over a year, “Cupping has been circulating the swimming world for about a year now, I even have my own cupping equipment because it wasn’t available in the trainers last year. The only downside to cupping is the welts, I constantly have bruises on my back.” Presta continues to explain that cupping is the only remedy that has visibly helped him recover in a quick amount of time and as a swimmer with 10 practices a week, he needs it.
Cupping has even spread to freshman basketball star Hannah Hand had her first encounter with this mysterious new therapy this fall. “I remember the first time I ever saw cupping getting done on a fellow athlete in the training room here at Marist. I was shocked when I first saw it but definitely wanted to try it sometime soon!”
Although many Olympians and Marist athletes have praised this new cupping therapy, has the public? The public took to the social media wildfire after watching one of the most famous athletes of the Olympic games, Michael Phelps, strut around with welts all over his body.
A Senior Editor for the Atlantic, James Hamblin published an article begging ‘Please, Michael Phelps, Stop Cupping.’ Throughout this article Hamblin explains that there is a lack of evidence that cupping actually helps blood flow and recovery. Hamblin writes, “Beliefs about how cupping benefits a person are multitudinous, limited to imagination. And, in terms of scientific evidence, sustained only by the imagination.” He continues on to say that he is writing this piece because he does ‘not like seeing people waste money who don’t know they are wasting money.’
Although James Hamblin makes valid points, does it really matter? Cupping has become a phenomenon by a single person, it helps when that person is the single-most decorated Olympian in history.