Several Olympic athletes have been sporting circular bruises which result from cupping.


With the Olympics now in full swing, many viewers have noticed the circular bruising on the backs and shoulders of several athletes - particularly the swimmers and gymnasts.

Cupping is a commonly used technique in acupuncture clinics. Glass or plastic cups are applied to the skin, usually but not always on the back, by way of creating a vacuum either through using a flame or a suction gun. Several cups may be used at the same time.

The vacuum inside the cup draws the skin upward into the cup and frequently will leave a very distinctive circular bruise when removed. These bruises are not usually painful and will clear in a few days.

Traditionally cups were used to stimulate the flow of blood and to balance and realign the flow of qi as well as to “clear toxins” from the body. Today they are frequently used in the treatment of sporting injuries or to assist in recovery after a sporting event.

“Moving cups” are often used to assist the recovery of heavily worked muscles. Oil is applied to the skin so that when the cups are in place they may be gently moved up or down the acupuncture channel or muscle being targeted for treatment.

Most Acupuncture NZ practitioners would use cups in their daily practices, having undergone extensive training in the technique as part of their acupuncture and Chinese medicine education.

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