If you have been watching the Olympics 2016, you may have noticed those small cicular spots on the backs and shoulders of several American athletes, including members of the men’s gymnastics team, and top Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps. Picture below shows Phelps walking around the pool before his 100-meter freestyle relay race.

Image: NBC
Image: NBC

The circular marks on the athletes back are the result of cupping, an ancient Asian healing technique that is quite popular currently among Olympians, particularly, the Team USA.

Of course, cupping is not entirely a new health trend reserved for athletes, it is actually a traditional healing art in the field of oriental medicine.

The therapy us based on the idea that suction from the cups draws the skin up and mobilises blood and energy around the body. According to the explanation of NBC Universal, the technique increases blood flow and helps a person’s sore muscles heal.

phelpsPhelps added cupping to his recovery routine leading up to Rio. The treatment can be seen in a pre-Olympics advertisement from Under Armour.

Besides Phelps, Team USA gymnast Alex Naddour also uses cupping as the treatment provides relief from the soreness and pounding that come from gymnastics. Naddour posted a picture on his nstagram, showing his own marks in an effort to relieve the pain from gymnastic.

He told USA Today, “That’s been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy,” “It’s been better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”

13721089_162559867483381_1825841936_nAlthough the resulting marks can look scary, they are temporary, and can apparently last up to two or three weeks.

While there are no evidence exists of any benefits of cupping, the results from the Olympics may make it a part of the recovery regimen of athletes in future competitions.

Related: Tips for Joint Pain Relief, Especially for Your Knees