MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It is hard not to notice the big, circular, bruise marks on Olympians like Michael Phelps.
They are the result of an ancient Chinese method of therapy that promotes healing. It's a process that some local therapists in Myrtle Beach use on their clients.
The process is called cupping, which works like a vacuum to pull the skin up. It is said to increase blood flow and relieve pain.
Maryanne Robinson, with Celestial Spa on Cloud 9, said athletes like Phelps find cupping beneficial in recovering from injury or surgery or even in looking for an increase in performance.
It looks a bit bizarre but does not hurt. Robinson only leaves the cups on the skin for a few minutes at a time.
"It's bringing that blood flow to that tissue," Robinson said. "Whereas a massage, that would take us a good 10 minutes of working on that tissue to get that blood to start coming up to the tissue. So this works very effectively and it also works without being invasive."
The benefits are not just reserved for athletes though.
"It's good for people that have arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, sciatica," Robinson said. "I've worked with two clients in the past that have ALS."
It can be used anywhere on the body, even the face. Robinson said it can help reduce cellulite as well.
"When your tissue is sandwiched down and tight, the blood isn't flowing there. The oxygen isn't getting to the tissue. This helps with the oxygenation of tissue," Robinson said.
Robinson said she has had at least two brand new clients book appointments for cupping after Olympic athletes sported marks from the therapy in Rio de Janeiro.