17:22 09 August 2016
Do you ever wonder why some of the world’s top athletes are sporting livid polka dots? US swimmer Michael Phelps and gymnast Alex Naddour have completed at the Olympics with the circular welts brought about by “cupping”, a traditional Chinese Medicine treatment that involves the use of hot suction cups that leaves a circular love bites on the skin for about one to two weeks.
The technique has been used for decades but became more popular after US actor Gwyneth Paltrow attended a film premier with circular marks peppering her skin. Other celebrities who tried it in the past include Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham.
However, the Rio Olympics provides us with growing evidence that it is also popular among athletes.
Mr. Naddour said that the treatment “provides relief from soreness and pounding that come from gymnastics.”
“That's been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy. It's been better than any money I've spent on anything else.”
“It has saved me from a lot of pain.”
According to practitioners, cupping treats muscular and joint pain, skin problems, and respiratory disorders, among others. It has also been used as an alternative treatment for cancer.
Dr Ayaaz Farhat, the co-director of the London Cupping Clinic said: “The use of cupping therapy amongst athletes has grown over the last decade. Wang Qun, the then teenage Chinese swimmer being the most obvious in Beijing Olympics. Since then, Floyd Mayweather, Andy Murray, Amir Khan and more recently the Olympians in Rio have all been seen with cupping marks.
“Their increased use is for the same reason that freeze tanks or oxygen rich blood injections are used by International sports teams and premiership footballers – to recover from the inevitable strains and knocks in time for the next round of competition.