The Internet Is Freaked Out About Those Weird Purple Spots All Over Michael Phelps' Body

If you watched NBC’s coverage of the Olympics swimming competition on Sunday night, you may have noticed some strange-looking purples spots covering the back and shoulders of America’s top swimmer, Michael Phelps:

There was plenty of concern, and no small amount of curiosity, swirling around social media after the most decorated Olympian of all time appeared on camera with the perfectly round, purplish spots all over his skin.


Fortunately, the internet was quick to weigh in with helpful answers:



Okay, maybe not so helpful. Fortunately, it’s nothing horrible, like a rash from the Zika virus, and as far as we know, Phelps hasn’t caught caught anything dreadful from the feces-infested water in Rio. Instead, the spots are the result of a therapy Phelps has been using to improve his performance.

Next page: Learn about the ancient Chinese therapy Phelps has been using and find out about another athlete you might see sporting the spots at the Olympics.

Chinese cupping therapy is a centuries old treatment that increases blood flow to the area and promotes healing and relaxation. A plastic cup is attached to the skin and suction is created with a pump. Although it can leave bruises on the skin for several days, it is reportedly not painful. American gymnast Alex Naddour has also been spotted with cupping marks on his body:

While some people thought they might want to try cupping for their ailments, there was also plenty of skepticism about it.

Whether or not it works, we wish Phelps and the rest of the U.S. Olympic team the best of luck!