The Spa Treatment Olympic Athletes—and Shannon Beador—Can't Live Without

Did you notice Michael Phelps' bruises this weekend? Turns out, they're right on trend.

Whether we’re talking about Shannon Beador, Gwyneth Paltrow, or gold-medal-winning members of the Olympics teams, cupping is incredibly on trend. But, um, what is it?

Wang Qun of China

Cupping is an ancient Eastern practice that treats issues like pain, soreness, and injuries. There are two ways to get the job done. “The traditional way is to use fire to burn up oxygen in the glass to create a vacuum which sucks the skin into the cup. The more modern way, which I practice, is to use a vacuum pump to suck air out of the cup. This suction separates the skin from the fascia and muscles underneath it,” says Joel Granik, licensed Acupuncturist, Eastern Medicine practitioner, and co-founder of Floating Lotus

Shannon Beador of Real Housewives of Orange County

“How it helps treat the body is that when the body suffers any injuries, whether something major like a torn muscle or minor like microtears, which are common with athletes, the body is not effective in clearing old blood and cell debris as it heals,” says Granik. Though you can't see it, that area becomes sore, painful and arthritic over time. Cupping pulls this old, stagnant blood and fluid to the surface—that accounts for those red welts.

Michael Phelps of the United States

“This inflammatory response causes the body's immune system to produce cytokines, an important protein the body uses to turn on and off the immune response. It also signals to the body to flush out the stagnant blood and fluid, which reduces the pain, soreness and swelling, and allows the body to heal itself naturally,” says Granik.
Studies have shown that though patients will experience significant reduction in pain after one treatment, multiple treatments are necessary for lasting, long-term results.

Alexander Naddour of the United States

“Cupping is becoming well enough known by guests who are seeking pain relief, recovery from  injury, and relief from chronic muscle pain, that they often ask for it by name,” says Exhale's national director of healing, Robert MacDonald. “Lesser known fact: Cupping is an amazing treatment for respiratory conditions including pneumonia, and chronic/acute asthma.  Cupping leaves a superficial bruise that will clear usually in a few days, and it doesn’t hurt! Pain relief and increased range of motion, as well as increased muscle function are often immediate, although chronic conditions will benefit from a few treatments. The best way to use cupping is in combination with acupuncture. But it can also be a very effective stand-alone treatment as well,” he says.

Kim Kardashian

An excuse for multiple spa days? Twist our arm.

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