In most of the stories about Michael Phelps and “cupping,” the writers off-handedly refer to cupping as an “ancient Chinese practice.” Is it, though?
I know Egyptians practiced cupping over 3,000 years ago. Greeks and Romans also practiced cupping (and I assume they picked it up from the Egyptians). Medieval Europeans used cupping to draw “ill humors” from the body, and physicians in the US continued to use cupping right up into the 19th century.
Did the ancient Chinese also practiced cupping? (If so, I can find no actual evidence of that with my meager Google skills. Where are the artifacts? I can find pictures of ancient Egyptian cups made of bronze but no pictures of ancent Chinese cupping equipment.)
Or, as I suspect might be the case, did the Chinese pick up the practice in more recent times from Western travelers?
There is no controversy over the fact that it is bollocks. There is no plausible physical effect but of course athletes are just as susceptible to the placebo effect as mere mortals (if not more so). I think the last Olympics and Beijing had that KT tape as the fad de jour and that had only slightly more and limited legitimacy to it.
I remember it being suggested as a (painful) way of draining a boil. A wide necked bottle, such as a milk bottle, would be warmed and the neck clapped over the boil. Atmospheric pressure would do the rest.
Leaving aside the question of who invented it, the likely reason the Chinese connection is cited is because [in my town, and therefore the world] there are still Chinese traditional medicine places you can go to for all your cupping needs, plus the occasional mogwai if you’re lucky. In my town [and etc] there are no similar ancient Egyptian or Roman emporia to buy that sort of stuff from.
George Orwell wrote about being cupped in a Parisian hospital.
“(Cupping is) a practice attributed to traditional Chinese medicine that is actually an ancient practice that seems to have been independently thought up in multiple cultures, such as the ancient Egyptians. Basically, cupping therapy is a near-universal practice dating back at least 3,500 years that was commonly practiced until at least the 1800s. Not surprisingly, the very ancientness of the practice is frequently used by advocates of cupping to argue for its efficacy, but I tend to like to turn that argument around and point out that…it’s very telling that a practice that’s been around some 3,500 years has so little evidence for its efficacy. That’s plenty of time to prove a treatment works.”
The Wikipedia article has gone through a frenzy of editing in recent days. The first time I looked, it had a line about “ancient Chinese practice” with no citation and a “citation needed” note from Wiki. Now it says this:
Hee, that’s exactly what I thought of when I saw the thread title, except I said (in my mind) “yes, yes it is. IN PRISON!”
I don’t know if it’s bollocks or not but I have a friend who is into all manner of homeopathic medicine and she comes into the office every week with these alarming purple marks on her (not visible to everyone; she shows them to me) and swears it’s helping her. Perhaps it is a placebo but I know she’s not a liar or a crackpot and if it makes her feel better, I say great.
B/c placebo effect is really useful. If you can trick your mind to ignore the pain that’s better than any pain medication. And if it release some of the stress faced by the athletes, that’s also really helpful during performance.