Cupping, the Probable Cause of Those Circles Covering Michael Phelps

If you're like me you may love the Olympics, or watch it just for the heck of it. Well, if you watched the swimming you may have noticed those welts covering Michael Phelps body. Well, you're about to learn more about those welts and why they are actually there. As our Licensed Massage Therapist Helene Weber teaches us about cupping. - Dave

Cupping has been around for centuries and has proven itself as a very viable therapy, but it hasn’t been so widely recognized until recently during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and specifically with Michael Phelps who has been showcasing his circular cupping marks on his shoulders, arms and back catching the attention of everyone.

By applying these suction cups and negative pressure to the skin it is easy to see why this style of treatment has such positive results. Just take a look at what outcomes they have and the conditions they help.


·        Stimulate Blood Flow

·        Drain Lymph and cellular debris

·        Separate layers of connective tissue to bring hydration and blood flow to body tissues

·        Soften tight muscles

·        Relieve Inflammation

·        Relieve pain and inflammation from injury or chronic conditions

·        Relieve deep muscular issues and reduce muscle spasms

·        Release and soften scar tissue and loosen post-surgery adhesions

·        Lift and stretch soft tissue to separate fascial restrictions

·        Increase range of movement and flexibility in joints.

·        Enhance any athletic training program to improve performance

·        Move stagnations of lactic acid and metabolic waste and enable normal lymphatic flow to promote healthy circulation and help strengthen the immune system.


Conditions cupping can help:

·        Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)

·        Stiff knees post-surgical

·        Scar tissue post-surgical

·        Plantar fasciitis

·        Tight cervical myofascia (upper trapezius, levator scapulae, etc)

·        Stiffness or tightness in the upper/lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, adductors, calfs, arms, etc.

·        Back Pain

·        Headaches

·        Whiplash

·        Pelvic Pain

·        Neck Pain

·        Sports Injuries

·        Chronic Pain

·        Disc Problems

·        Migraines

·        Fibromyalgia

·        Adhesions

·        Carpal Tunnel

·        Jaw Pain (TMJ)

·        Painful Scars

·        Scoliosis

·        Sciatica

·        Myofascial Pain Syndrome


The color and pattern of the marks depend on the level of stagnation in that area.

·        They range from a bright red to dark purple,

·        Usually last 3 days to one week.

·        May last longer if a person has chronic congestion or leads a more sedentary lifestyle.

·        If there is no stagnation present, only a light pink mark will show which disappears in a few minutes to a few of hours.

·        Sites where there is old trauma or injury may require multiple cupping sessions.

These cupping marks and surface discolorations are sometimes misinterpreted as damage to the tissue rather than the result of existing disease and toxins being removed from deep within the tissues and being drawn to the surface.

The marks may look painful, but they are not. In fact most people feel immediate relief from this therapy.

 Cupping is considered a safe, practice, but it’s important to find a well-trained practitioner who knows the proper techniques and understands any risks a client may have in regards to this modality.

- Helene Weber, LMT, CCHT, Educator

P.s. We are fortunate to have therapists like Helene Weber who have extensive knowledge and education regarding therapeutic uses like cupping. If you're interested in more information please call and ask for Helene, 224-765-5550.