Michael Phelps, Alex Naddour, and Pavel Sankovich had all showed up at the Olympics with cupping marks.
The Chinese medicine practice is known to relieve pain, and it has a history of millennia. The first description of cupping was in an Egyptian papyrus, which is the oldest medical text in the world. The papyrus is dated to 1550 BC, and the method is probably much older than this.
In China, the practice is almost as famous as acupuncture, Tuina or moxibustion.
While cupping cannot cure real medical conditions, it can help deviate pain caused by various situations. It is efficient in muscle pains, asthma, or arthritis.
Athletes are known to push their physical condition to obtain results, which can lead to pains and aches. In these cases, they use a combination of cupping and Tuina.
Tuina is a manipulative therapy that uses Taoist principles to create a balance between the eight elements of the traditional Chinese medicine. The method included brushing, rolling, pressing, kneading or rubbing areas between the joints.
Cupping involves glass spheres in different sizes, and they are both suitable for adults and children, for either people with big bodies or those with delicate skin. The practitioner also uses a clean, dry piece of cotton and alcohol for sterilization.
The first step is sanitation, as the hands and the equipment must be clean. The second phase is ensuring the comfort of the patient, which is done through towels and pillows to create a relaxing position and a complete description of what will happen during the treatment.
In the dry cupping technique, each cup is placed on the body for up to 10 minutes. In the wet technique, a small incision in the skin is performed before applying the cups. In moving cupping, the cups are applied to the skin that had been previously moisturized with a lubricant. Flash method includes the continuous lifted to create a stronger sensation.
Then, the cups are removed gently, by letting the gas coming out from the cup and then lifting the glass slowly.
Once the cups are taken away, they leave behind circular marks. The explanation is that the pressure created inside the cup is affecting the muscles and the epidermis, but they usually go away after a couple of days.
The color of the marks can even offer information on the state of the person’s condition. For example, darker marks indicate chronic pain, and the reddish ones show the presence of acute pain.
In the Chinese tradition, it is considered that the stagnation of blood is the cause medical conditions, and cupping can make the blood circulate again inside the body and balance the qi.
The Chinese physicians warn that cupping should not be done by an inexperienced person, and it should not be attempted at home. Cupping should include a diagnosis and a plan of treatment that must be done by a professional.
A more scientific explanation for the cupping is the fact that it creates an experience of different sensations that modify the patient’s view of pain and its medical condition.
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