Cupping at the Olympics – What’s All the Hype About?

Cupping at the Olympics – What’s All the Hype About?

If you’ve been watching the 2016 Olympic Games, it’s likely you’ve seen some of your favorite athletes utilizing Myofascial Decompression (MFD), more commonly known as “Cupping” or “Cupping Therapy”. If you’ve seen red circular marks on the Olympians’ bodies, then you’ve seen the use of Cupping. Although this seems like a brand new trend, Cupping is actually a technique that has been in existence for centuries, but has recently been popularized because of its use at the Olympics.

The experts at Professional Physical Therapy have weighed in on cupping and address the many concerns and questions they have been receiving from their patients, more so as millions of people are watching the Olympic Games and recognizing the remnants of cupping therapy on their favorite athletes’ skin.

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping Therapy is the use of suction to areas of the body where blood flow is stagnant from an injury, overuse, or simply a lack of movement, to allow blood to flow more freely, which therefore, helps speed the healing process or contribute to the overall wellness of the patient. Cupping tools can be made of glass, rubber or silicone.

What is Cupping Therapy used for?

Cupping can help alleviate back and neck pain, headaches, muscle soreness, limitations in range of motion, plantar fasciitis, and can improve soft tissue restrictions and tissue tightness. Cupping can also be used as treatment options for pre-game warm-up or post-game recovery.

What are the red circles/bruises I see on the Olympians’ skin?

The red circles, also known as cupping marks, are painless signs of the increased blood flow from this therapy. These red circles are called petichiae, which is a form of ruptured capillary beds. These red circles can remain on the treated area(s) for 7-10 days, or sometimes longer. It’s important to realize, however, that despite the bruising, cupping is simple, safe and effective.

Is Cupping Therapy only for professional athletes?

No. Recreational athletes, weekend warriors, post-surgery or post-injury patients, and people whose bodies suffer from a sedentary lifestyle are all good candidates for Cupping Therapy. At Professional Physical Therapy, we utilize Cupping Treatment when patients present with muscle tightness and/or soft tissue restrictions.



Michael Dunne, PT, DPT, ATC

Co-Clinical Director, Pompton Plains





Patti Castle Pic

Patricia Castle, PT, DPT

Co-Clinical Director, Pompton Plains





Emmilynne Quinn

Massage Therapist, Stamford