Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps certainly amazed us in the 2016 summer games.  Yet, his performance was not the only thing that grabbed our attention.

The Olympian had red circular marks on his body that we learned were the result of a treatment that dates back to Egypt, China, and Middle Eastern cultures.

A therapeutic cupping treatment involves warming and placing cups, usually made of glass, on the skin. By warming the air within the cup, a vacuum is created, and when it is applied to the skin, the tissue is drawn up into the cup. This increases the blood flow, loosens the connective tissue to stimulate healing. It is similar to the way deep tissue massage may be used to break up scar tissue and reduce pain.

The cups are often placed on the back, neck, and shoulders or the site of pain. Cupping may cause those a little soreness and those red circular spots, which will disappear in a few days to a week.  The cups are left in place anywhere from five to 20 minutes depending on the nature of the individual's condition. A general course of treatment involves several sessions based on a person’s need.

Watch this video of cupping, as Robin Stoloff talks with Ryan Buccafurni, Director of Physical Therapy for Integrity Physical Therapy at their Northfield, NJ, location.