Since first seeing Michael Phelps swim with purple circles on his back on Sunday, you’ve probably already learned that the marks were caused by a process called “cupping.” Phelps uses the ancient Chinese healing technique to relieve stress in his muscles.
Now, courtesy of NBC’s Twitter, you can see exactly what it looks like for yourself:
As NBC says, “That can’t be comfortable.” But the 31-year-old is clearly doing something right: He won his 19th Olympic gold medal on Sunday in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, and will race again Tuesday night in the 200-meter butterfly.
Phelps has been using the strategy for a while, and his trainer told The New York Times there’s “nothing really particularly special about it.”
If it works, it works. (HuffPost’s report on the hard science claimed it has yet to be proven that cupping isn’t just a placebo.)
And for those of you who want to see a close-up of Phelps doing whatever it takes to stay at the top of his game and the Games ...
...here you go: