(K. Brent Tomer),
ATHLETES are an odd bunch, driven by the desire for a gold medal to train on early mornings and late nights and to follow obsessive diet regimens. But those lining up at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro this week look odder than most. Strewn across their backs are painful-looking circular burn marks. The sores are not the result of some unfortunate illness: they are the effects of “cupping”, an ancient form of acupuncture that has come into vogue at the highest level of sports. Alex Naddour, an American gymnast competing at the Rio games, told one newspaper that cupping was an alternative to a traditional massage, allaying the physical pain and loosening tight muscles after hours of practice on the gym floor.
The treatment, a form of Chinese medicine, involves applying hot suction cups filled with flaming liquid or paper to the skin, sometimes accompanied by bloodletting. As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum, puckering up the skin, and supposedly reducing…Continue reading