What is “Cupping”?


You may have noticed bizarre, circular bruises on Olympic athletes, like gold medalist Michael Phelps.

It’s from a process called “cupping” and it turns out, you don’t have to go to Rio to find athletes who do it.

Cupping is an ancient Chinese medicine technique used to treat pain.

Two and a half years ago, the staff at Indiana State University’s Athletic Training Department got certified to use it.

The department’s Associate Director Cody Inskeep demonstrated for NBC 2 News how cupping works.

They put cups on the body and apply negative pressure.

In the Olympics, athletes will then go through different movement patterns.

The goal is to reduce restriction in the body and increase pain-free movement.

The process itself isn’t painless.

“Overall it depends on the level of restrictions and the area of the body it’s being applied to. It can be pretty uncomfortable at times, especially once we introduce movement into it. But if the cups are being statically placed and there’s no movement taking place, it ranges from not that painful to being pretty excruciating,” explains Inskeep.

Inskeep says he and his staff went through the process themselves when they became certified.

He says it was pretty uncomfortable, but a fun experience.

Inskeep says they use cupping quite a bit for their track and field athletes, and have seen good results.

But so far, there’s no scientific evidence to prove cupping actually works.

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