Cupping: Understanding Phelps And His Purple Bruises

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

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Late Sunday night Michael Phelps emerged from the ready room for the finals of the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay. The Greatest of All Time was bundled in a navy jacket before diving in for his debut at his fifth Olympic Games.

As Nathan Adrian barreled home to help Phelps secure his 19th Olympic Gold, all eyes were not on the anchor, but on the purple spots on Phelps’ shoulders as he leaned over the block, cheering his teammate to the wall.

As the world wondered “What are those dots?” Swimming World provided the answers.

Photo Courtesy: Isthmus Acupuncture

Photo Courtesy: Isthmus Acupuncture

Cupping Therapy: Demystifying the Circular Bruises” was published in January 2015 and explained the phenomena.

De-compressive in nature, the way cupping therapy works is that it “employs suction to tug on the tightest muscles, stretching the fascia. The vacuum lifts the skin off the muscle or bone, allowing the blood vessels to expand and more blood to flow to the targeted area.”

The increased blood flow to the targeted area is believed to help the body recover faster.

After his prelims race in the men’s 200 fly—Phelps earned the fifth seed for the semifinals—the first question asked to Phelps involved cupping, which Phelps explained was a part of his pre-meet routine.

“I’ve done it for awhile. I haven’t had bad ones for awhile,” Phelps said.

He added that he typically does it on his right shoulder because “that’s where it hurts the most.”

35 Comments
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5 years ago

It works for me

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5 years ago
Reply to  Ellie Purvis

They do look a lot like love bites though

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5 years ago

En que lugar quedo

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Kate O’Sullivan here ya go ”nice shoulder”

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5 years ago

Ahahahahhahaha you’re so kind

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as always ahhaha

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5 years ago

Sound familiar Dr. Bruce Walker?

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5 years ago
Reply to  Dick Beaver

I am amazed at how many people use this great therapy with success and now it’s out in the news because of Michael Phelps. Others render an opinion about cupping being a waste of time with no basis in clinical experience on how well it works.

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5 years ago

Lisa Byrd Kevil

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5 years ago

CJ Brincefield

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Gretchen Morgan

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5 years ago

Shahy Hantera Soly Hantera

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5 years ago

I love an athlete who try’s anything to heal quicker the honest way! No HGH’s or steroids! Bravo?

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5 years ago

I’ve been amazed all day that this “news” has been today on BBC etc since cupping is an ancient traditional thing outside of swimming

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5 years ago

It’s just a con. Does absolutely nothing. And if you think it cured you, it’s because there was nothing wrong in the first place.

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5 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Webber

Says the guy sitting in his armchair about the most decorated Olympic swimmer in history.

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5 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Webber

Wrong…

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5 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Webber

You can have your own opinions, but not your own facts. All those swimmers have wasted valuable time while some idiot is raking money in.
I’ll not post a picture of what can happen when cupping goes wrong, but it’s enough to keep anyone out the pool. How would you feel about it then?

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5 years ago

Nguyen Ngoc Han have seen many swimmers with cupping marks on their backs and arms!?

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5 years ago
Reply to  Dyan Braden

I bet he like it?

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5 years ago
Reply to  Dyan Braden

I saw 1 doctor have that before ?

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5 years ago
Reply to  Dyan Braden

Nguyen Ngoc Han lol. I just got that!!!!

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5 years ago

In the fens we call them Fen Fairy Bites. Look like some loved up fan has been love biting him all over – got him lots of attention though

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5 years ago

I won´t feel bad showing my cupping bruises anymore!

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5 years ago

Cupping rocks!

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5 years ago

Jean-Marc Soulas the next recovery strategy

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5 years ago

Great therapy! It works!

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5 years ago

Really can’t believe this is newsworthy.

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5 years ago

Anthony Maiorano III

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5 years ago

Melissa Endsley

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5 years ago

Laurie Ann O’Shea

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5 years ago
Reply to  Heidi Ho

Hes nuts!

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5 years ago

Fads and gimmicks. I would think Phelps of all people would be above this nonsense.

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Monica Sagrado Chiong
5 years ago

That’s ventusa?☺??

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flutterby
5 years ago

I’m a masters swimmer in my sixties and cupping definitely helps me.