U.S. Olympic Athletes Utilize Traditional Chinese Therapy "Cupping" to Stay in Shape

Some U.S. athletes competing in the ongoing Rio Olympic Games have
been using a kind of physical therapy known as "cupping", evidently
believing the practice help them relax their muscles and ease body pains. Among
the sportsmen who have utilized the treatment is swimmer Michael Phelps, the
fellow who has won over a dozen Olympic medals.

In Chinese cupping is known as "ba guanzi", literally “pulling
the cup.” This is a traditional medical treatment that has been in use in China
for centuries. In the practice, the therapist first set a small fire in a glass
or pottery cup, and, as soon as the fire has gone out, places the cup, mouth
down, on the part of patient’s body that is to be treated. As the air inside
the cup cools, skin and muscle under the cup are sucked up in to the cup. The
Chinese often use this therapy, along with acupuncture, to help people who
report body aches. 

To those who haven't seen cupping before, the sight might be a
little startling, what’s with the fire and hot air, as well as the fact that the
treatment leaves purplish circles on patient’s body that look like
bruises. 

As is the case with many traditional Chinese medical treatments,
doctors trained in Western medicine have their doubts on the effectiveness of
cupping. Still, many people resort to the traditional therapy. Now some American
Olympic athletes, in their efforts to win their Olympic medals, have decided to
get their marks of cupping.