Why in news?
Olympic champion and U.S swimmer Michael Phelps is one of a number of athletes who practices “cupping” an ancient Chinese healing practice. Curiosity grew after dark purple circles were spotted on his shoulders at the Rio Olympics. 

What is cupping technique?
In this therapy, cups are placed on the section of the body in need of repair to create suction. In most practices, a substance is placed in the circular cup and set on fire. Once the flame goes out, the cup is placed upside down on acupuncture points on the skin for about five to 10 minutes, resulting in red circular marks or bruises on the skin. 

Benefits expected
The method is said to draw out toxins, mobilise blood flow, soothe sore muscles and even help cure insomnia. 

Scientific evidence
Western medical societies are quite sceptical about the procedure saying that it has no scientific rationale.