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Cupping Therapy at the 2016 Olympic Games


On point and on-trend at the Olympic Games this year, cupping therapy is on display – all over one swimmer’s back and legs. Although, according to CBS News, “Cupping has probably been around as long as traditional Chinese medicine has been around – a couple thousand years.”

Where Did You Get Those Bruises?

Doreen Santoro, owner of Body Mechanic in Jupiter, Florida, doesn’t like to label the tell-tale purple marks that appear after cupping treatment. “Actually, they aren’t really bruises, it is the result of the blood supply being supplied to the affected area.” Santoro uses the Ace Medicupping Machine™ in her practice and has seen an increase in patient interest since the addition of cupping therapy to her practice over a year ago.

“My patients are primarily golfers, athletes and yogis, but also the elderly need blood supply brought to the muscle to increase circulation.” Santoro shares that she’s also had good results using cupping on patients during simple massages, by moving the warm cups in a manner similar to a hot-stone massage.

Men’s Health magazine reports that this age-old treatment has become popular in treating ailing and fatigued athletes. Before more modern techniques and machines were available, the practitioner placed an alcohol-soaked cotton ball inside a glass cup and set flame to it.

After quickly extinguishing the contents, the warm cup is applied to the skin and creates a suction which couples with the heat and results in producing blood flow to the area. According to Dr. Houman Danesh in the Men’s Health article, “Increased blood flow can be beneficial to jumpstart or restart a blunted healing response.”

Santoro states that in her experience, and according to the positive feedback she receives from her patients, cupping therapy can produce the following results:

1) Increased blood supply

2) Increased movement/Range of motion

3) Better circulation/Lymphatic drainage/pain relief

4) Breaking up scar tissue and adhesions (Where necessary after surgical procedures)

Seeing is Believing

“Michael Phelps is doing wonders for my business, says Santoro. “Before, when I started using cupping my patients thought I was a witch doctor, but now they see a professional athlete on television with gold medals, obviously believing in cupping therapy, and they are much more open to the idea.”

In conclusion, some physicians have opted not to use cupping in their practices due to what they see as the lack of scientific proof. According to CBS News, “Doctors who specialize in other mainstream and alternative medicine say when it comes to the science behind the ancient Chinese practice, the answers are vague.”

That being said, the debate will continue as demand and reported results continue to be shared. The report, Alternative medicine: an update on cupping therapy, published by, states, “So the ideology of cupping therapy standardization enjoys popular support”, due to the fact that 10 protocols for clinical application have been recommended. Further, the study reveals that the Chinese government supports national standardization of cupping therapy.

Photo Credit: Mitch Gunn /

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