What are the red bruises on Michael Phelps body?

Ahram Online , Reuters , Thursday 11 Aug 2016

Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps (AP)

Legendary American swimmer Michael Phelps is among many Olympians who have attracted attention at the current Olympic Games in Rio de Janiro with red-circled bruises on their bodies.

These bruises were caused by a now popular medical therapy called 'cupping' in which glass cups are placed on body parts and vacuumed by either heat or suction causing blood to pool and stagnate.

It's known as Hijama in Arabic and it's not widely-used in the Middle East currently but Islamic scholars claim that Muslims were urged by their prophet Mohamed to use it.

"I have done it for awhile but I haven’t had bad ones (marks) like this awhile though," Phelps who won his 21st Olympic gold medal on Tuesday said.

However, while the therapy dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures, it has been less popular among more skeptical Western medical societies.

American gymnast Alexander Naddour
American gymnast Alexander Naddour (Reuters)

On Monday, there were nearly 300 posts per minute mentioning Phelps on Twitter, according to social media analytics firm Zoomph.

U.S. gymnast Alex Naddour, 25, and Belarusian swimmer Pavel Sankovich are also fans of the procedure. Naddour posted a selfie with a big cupping mark on his shoulder last week, while Sankovich, 26, posted a photo on Instagram in June saying, "This kinda Saturday morning. Cupping is a great recovery tool."

Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and pop star Justin Bieber have also been photographed with the distinctive large circles on their backs and chest.

Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps (Reuters)

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