Michael phelps broke the 2168 year old record of Leonidas of Rhodes to become the most decorated olympian of all time. As he glided through the water and onto the podium the dark cupping spots on his shoulders caused quite a ripple. Now all the press and public are clambering to find out more about the Chinese medicine technique of cupping.
The history of cupping is hard to determine accurately. It first appears in literature around 1500 BCE on an Egyptian papyrus describing medical practices and herbal knowledge. Both Hippocrates and the prophet Muhammed recommended the use of cupping for health. It would be interesting to know if Leonidas of Rhodes also used cupping. The earliest mention of cupping in Chinese medical literature occurs around 300 CE.
Cupping therapy is a method of using suction to pull or move stagnant fluids and blood out of an injured area. Either glass or plastic cups are placed on the skin for up to 15 minutes to increase circulation locally and improve the recovery of muscles. In this simple way cupping reduces pain and relaxes tight and painful muscles. Cups can be placed in a single spot or can be moved to access large areas of the body.
Interestingly, cups are also regularly placed over the lungs to stimulate lung qi and improve lung function. In this way cups work to combat the early symptoms of a cold, stimulate expectoration of phlegm later in a cold and reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.
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