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Local massage therapist explains cupping

Michael Phelps continues to dominate in the pool at the Rio Olympics, racking up even more medals but the talk has turned to the bruises on his skin and the bodies of other athletes competing at the games. They come from a technique called cupping.

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Michael Phelps continues to dominate in the pool at the Rio Olympics, racking up even more medals but the talk has turned to the bruises on his skin and the bodies of other athletes competing at the games.

They come from a technique called cupping.

Local massage therapist Jennifer Tamang was a member of the international massage team for the Athens Paralympic games in 2004 and in London in 2012.

She tells us while cupping looks scary, it shouldn't be, and it's not just for star athletes.

Cupping is ancient Chinese pain relief treatment.

We wanted to know the benefits of the technique, so we visited Balance Massage & Bodywork in Kalamazoo, where Tamang has been using cupping for nearly a decade.

"This really helps alleviate some pressure if someone can't take the pressure then I can draw it up and then the lymphatic system is activated and it really helps detoxification in a more noninvasive manner,” said Tamang.

Tamang uses the cups along with traditional massage and she stresses that while the marks on Phelps and other athletes look like bruises, they aren't.

"It looks like bruising, it definitely looks like bruising but there aren't any broken capillaries going on and it's just that stagnant blood and toxins being drawn up out of the blood from underneath where the suction is,” said Tamang.

The goal is to get the blood flowing and it's not just for athletes or even those with injuries.

"If you're sitting at a desk all day and every day all day you're using the same muscles over and over again so for every day functionality it's even more imperative,” said Tamang.

And while she and other trained therapists can leave the cups on for a longer time like the Olympic athletes are doing there are ways to adapt cupping for everyone.

"There's so many different varieties that you can always make it comfortable for any person," said Tamang.

She explained that in the winter time she uses cupping on her face and on her own children to help with sinus pressure and chest congestion.

If you want to learn more about what cupping is and how it’s used at you can visit her site: http://www.balancemassageandbodywork.com/.



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