Michael Phelps' mysterious red bruises? It's Chinese cupping therapy, stupid

Cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that uses vacuumed glass cups placed on the body to stimulate blood flow, promote the flow of ‘qi’ and ‘extract toxins’ in order to relieve muscle pain.

    2016/08/09

NSFW    NEW YORK — American swimmer Michael Phelps brought home yet another Olympic gold medal, but the world’s attention has been focused on the mysterious red, bruise marks on his body.

The marks were made by cupping therapy, a traditional Chinese medicine treatment. Cupping therapy can be performed by placing a burning cotton bud inside a glass cup, which creates a vacuum inside. Or, the air inside the cups can be sucked out by a suction device.

The cups are usually left on the body for up to 10 minutes, making the skin red and swollen with a circular mark. This expands the capillaries and draw blood to the cupped areas. The therapy is believed to reduce soreness and help heal overworked muscles.
Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic gold medal over the weekend. REUTERS
Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic gold medal over the weekend. REUTERS
Cupping therapy marks clearly seen on Phelps’ shoulder. REUTERS
Cupping therapy marks clearly seen on Phelps’ shoulder. REUTERS
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