The swimming competitions at the Rio Olympics have proven to be full of excitement, with Canadians Kylie Masse and Penny Oleksiak, among others, scooping up medals for Team Canada. But some viewers have been distracted by the athletes' bodies, particularly the USA swim team members like Michael Phelps, which are marked by bizarre red or brown circles.
While they may look painful, it turns out the marks are fromcupping – an alternative therapy that has mostly been used in Middle Easternand Asian countries, especially China.
Cupping has earned itself many celebrity fans over the yearsincluding Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, and now many Olympic athletesare hoping it will help to boost their chances of success in Rio, too.
The therapy involves having warmed round glass suction cupsplaced on sore parts of the body, creating a partial vacuum. This is believedto stimulate muscles and increase blood flow, which is said to help boostperformance and relieve pain.
While some have questioned how effective the practice is,Belarus swimmer Pavel Sankovich is such a fan he shared a picture of hiscupping treatment on his legs during his Olympics training.
"This kinda Saturday morning. Cupping is a greatrecovery tool," he told fans.
Gwyneth Paltrow has previously been spotted with cuppingmarks on her back on a red carpet appearance, and explained on her lifestylewebsite Goop that she often prefers to use Eastern medicine such as cupping andacupuncture to heal her ailments rather than Western medicine.
"Eastern medicine has adifferent approach than Western medicine—it's more holistic. The root of theproblem is addressed, as opposed to a symptom being attended to with prescriptionmedication, only to return," Gwyneth wrote.
"Don’t get me wrong, Iam thankful as hell for a round of antibiotics or surgery when necessary, but Ihave been helped tremendously by various practices that help the body healitself."