What is Cupping?

We’ve all seen Michael Phelps in the Rio Olympics this year, and what are those circular shaped marks dotted across his body?

Cupping; also known as Myofascial Decompression, a treatment technique which originated from ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures.

Cupping uses plastic or glass cups which are heated using a flammable substance and then placed on the skin to create an element of suction; (more modern versions use a rubber pump to create suction rather than heat!). As the air cools it creates a vacuum effect. The cups are usually left in place for 5-10 minutes, in which you can observe the skin changing colour as it warms and reddens due to the expansion of blood vessels.

This helps to promote and enhance blood flow, optimising the natural healing process and aiding recovery. Cupping has been shown effective in reducing natural joint and muscle pain; the technique can be used to treat a number of physical problems including plantar fasciitis, ITB pain, hamstring and calf tightness as well as to promote physical relaxation.