Why Do So Many Olympians Have Circular Bruises?

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Many people were left wondering what was going on with the circular shapes on athletes’ skin during the Olympic Games in Rio. Those odd bruises you’ve seen on Michael Phelps’s shoulders and over many other Olympian’s bodies are from a healing technique called cupping.

Cupping involves lighting a bit of flammable liquid on fire in a glass cup that can be placed on the skin to provide suction once the temperature decreases in the glass (when the flame goes out). The glass cup sucks the skin into itself and away from the body which increases blood flow, and also results in a perfectly circular bruise.


WFAA reports that Alex Naddour of the U.S. Olympics Gymnastics team is a bit fan of the technique along with the rest of the men’s team. Their training and performances are so rough on their bodies that they need some relief from pain.

Naddour stated, “Our bodies are going to hurt after doing this for so long. It’s the best thing that I’ve ever had…It has saved me from a lot of pain.”

The gymnasts can apply the cups to themselves or have each other help to move the cups around the body for more relief.

The technique has been used around the world for thousands of years, and there are many different ways to implement the practice. More information can be found here.

#cuppingtherapy #cupping #michaelphelps

A photo posted by Kinetic Touch and Fitness (@kinetic_touch) on