Team USA athletes in bright red spots: What is cupping?

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Olympic athletes are using “cupping therapy” in Rio, an ancient remedy to relieve aching muscles that leaves blood-colored spots all over their bodies.

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It’s hard to miss the big, blood-colored spots all over the limbs of Team USA athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They are the result of cupping, which is a method of increasing blood flow and helping sore muscles heal by putting powerful suction cups on a person’s skin. Michael Phelps has been the most high-profile athlete adhering to this ancient remedy that seems to be a 2016 Olympics fad.

The section itself can be created by fire, or a regular ol’ hand or electric pump. There has been some discussion whether cupping therapy is actually effective or a form of pseudo-science. Based on how well the United States is doing in Rio, cupping doesn’t appear to be harmful to athletes, at the very least.

So if you see someone competing with spots all over his or her body, don’t worry, she wasn’t attacked by an octopus, nor has she contracted giant chicken pox. Athletes are merely trying to maximize the potential of their muscles.

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