Olympic Athletes Cupping: Fad Hides Dangers Of This Alternative Medicine

By on
Rio Olympics Cupping
Rio Olympics Cupping

Viewers of Rio Olympics 2016 may have probably noticed the large red circular marks on backs and shoulders of several Team USA athletes including all-world swimmer Michael Phelps.

Apparently these are the result of a traditional Chinese practice known as ?cupping?; therapy involving heated cups being placed on the skin. Athletes and gymnasts are turning to the alternative medicine in an attempt to boost their performance as it said to relieve muscle soreness and pain.

Practitioners go so far to say it can treat an array of ailments, including muscular pain, joint pain, skin problems including eczema and acne, respiratory disorders, including the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis, and has also been used as an alternative treatment for cancer.

While the alternative treatment may have become the latest health fad among the Rio Olympic athletes, but the fact remains it is pseudoscience and can cause a number of side effects and as such poses dangers to people using the technique.

Michael Phelps Cupping

Dangers of Cupping

Cupping therapies may appear simple enough: Putting cups on ailing parts of the body, with the rim to the skin; creating a vacuum inside the cup through burning or suctioning out the air.

However, the process is quite painful and leaves bruises all over the body of person using the technique. Besides the alternative medical procedure even can cause serious accidents if not performed by a skilled practitioner. It can cause serious injuries especially burns and as well as blisters if not properly administered.

In addition, one of the cupping techniques called wet cupping can particularly cause skin or blood infections. The technique involves cutting the skin and draw blood through suction with cups. Though supporters believe that wet cupping removes harmful substances and toxins from the body to promote healing, it even causes risk of blood and skin infection.

Wet Cupping

Here are the possible side effects –

  • Mild discomfort
  • Burns
  • Bruises
  • Skin infection

Avoiding Dangers

Still many of these dangers can be avoided if the technique is used with the help of skilled practitioners. Also proper care needs to be taken with wet therapy and disinfectants be used?to prevent infection.

According to the British Cupping Society, cupping therapy should be avoided by the following groups:

  • Pregnant or menstruating women
  • People with metastatic cancer
  • People with bone fractures or muscle spasms

The organization also says cupping therapy should not be applied to sites on the body that have:

  • A deep vein thrombosis
  • An ulcer
  • An artery
  • A pulse that can be felt

About the author

To Top