They're not the Olympic rings you'd expect people to be talking about. Huge purple circles on the arms and backs of swimmer Michael Phelps and gymnast Alex Naddour.

They're remnants of a therapy technique called cupping, a technique meant to relieve pain and injuries. It might seem like a new idea, but it's not.

One Triad massage therapist said he does this technique on many of his clients. It's a form of therapy in traditional Chinese medicine.

Cup by cup, Michael Johnson is providing relief. "I've been using cupping most of my life."

The Greensboro massage therapist understands the importance of this age-old method. "It picks up the muscles,” said Johnson. “It picks them up and it holds them so that they kind of get a big stretch and a yawn and that's something that we can't manually with our hands." Promoting blood flow that helps heal muscles.

From ancient techniques using fire to new options that attract athletes, there are a couple ways to heal.

Some medical experts are skeptical of the method's effectiveness. A review of 135 studies in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found no benefit for sore muscles.

Massage therapists like Michael Johnson would likely disagree. "If you have an injury that's interfering with your daily life, if you have difficulty moving or turning your neck or rotating your shoulder, then I advise you to look at cupping."

So you're probably wondering if it hurts. We spoke with two women who've used cupping. One said it was enjoyable, the other said it was unusual.