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Olympic Athletes Shine Spotlight on Cupping Therapy

Olympians such as Michael Phelps (above) have been seen sporting cupping marks.  Olympic gymnast Alex Naddour has been outspoken about the therapeutic practice, calling cupping "the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy." (Photo courtesy of Instagram @m_phelps00)

Olympians such as Michael Phelps (above) have been seen sporting cupping marks.  Olympic gymnast Alex Naddour has been outspoken about the therapeutic practice, calling cupping "the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy." (Photo courtesy of Instagram @m_phelps00)

Traditional Chinese Medicine cupping has been gaining popularity in the news this past week — you may have seen many US olympics athletes with purple cupping marks on their back and shoulders. They are using cupping therapy to speed up their recovery time after performing. But the therapy is hardly new to Chinese medicine, and has been used for thousands of years. Sometimes it takes a little popular culture to remind us of ancient ways of healing!

How does cupping help?

Cupping helps remove congestion and stagnation (stagnant blood and lymph) from the body, and improves the flow of Qi and blood throughout the body. As the cups are suctioned, it draws fresh blood and lymph into the tissue, delivering nutrients and oxygen to the area.

Cupping is used to treat a wide variety of symptoms, including muscle problems, pain relief, arthritis, asthma, insomnia, the common cold, chronic cough, and fertility issues. As an example, at Blue Ova we also often use cupping to release excess heat if overstimulation happens during an IUI or IVF cycle. 

What does a cupping treatment look like?

The actual cups themselves can be of different shapes and sizes and are usually made of glass or plastic. The cup is suctioned on the skin to pull up aching muscles. The more modern, typically plastic cups pull out air with individual suction pumps. The cups are left on for one to five minutes, and when removed,  often leaving behind little red marks, which indicate improved blood flow. The marks tend to go away in two to three days.  

Interested in trying? 

If you are interested in trying cupping, please discuss with your Blue Ova acupuncturist at your next appointment to see if the therapy is something that would complement your current treatment. 

Shannon Kidwell

Blue Ova Health, 1414 Castro St, San Francisco, CA, 94114, United States