‘Cupping’ therapy seizes Olympic spotlight

Those red circles on Michael Phelps are not a disease

United States' Michael Phelps competes in the final of the men's 200-meter butterfly during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – “What are those?!”

Chances are you’ve asked yourself that when tuning into Olympic swimming races this week and seeing massive red and purple bruises covering the bodies of athletes.

No, it’s not a disease, but rather the effects of ‘cupping’ therapy.

The technique of using cups, made of either plastic or glass that can be heated or not, to release tension in muscles and increase circulation is nothing new. In fact, it’s been in use for thousands of years, starting in Asia.

Now cupping has make its made its way to Rio and has seen more coverage than some entire sporting events.

Dr. David Glisson is a media message therapist with Dynamic Balance Message Therapy in Savannah and has been offering cupping for more than five years. He uses an air pumps as his method to suck the skin into the cup.

“Cupping is similar to deep tissue to massage. It’s get deep and releases the muscles without a lot of pain,” he said. “Some people can’t hardly handle the deep tissue but they can handle the cupping. It’s a lot easier the deep tissue and does the same thing.”

He says for many athletes it’s made all the difference between merely competing at the Olympics and walking away with a gold medal.

“Michael Phelps is such a good athlete and there’s a reason for him being a good athlete. ” Dr. Glisson said.”He does the things that makes him a better athlete and that involves cupping.”

WSAV is a KOIN 6 affiliate.

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