Fighting Fit :: What is athlete cupping therapy?

Fighting Fit :: What is athlete cupping therapy?

The ancient eastern practice has been used by the likes of Conor McGregor and Michael Phelps.

By John Balfe - 28 Aug 2018

Odds are you have seen athletes who have been involved in cupping therapy at one point or another. The leopardskin spots the therapeutic practice leaves behind, usually dotted around their upper back, are tell-tale signs of its use.

But what is it, exactly? It is an ancient eastern medicine practice used to help treat all measure of ailments, or to recuperate a body being put through the rigours of intense physical exercise.

Cupping therapy helps athletes in myriad ways. It is beneficial to joint and muscular pain, helping to quicken the recovery time needed between sessions, giving a helping hand to the body’s natural inflammatory response to exercise as well as expediting soft tissue recovery.

The large dots, such as those you can see on Conor McGregor above, are created by heated glass cups being placed on the skin, usually the upper back. As the air in the heated glass begins to cool, it creates a suction against the skin, causing small blood vessels underneath to break which caused the distinct circular bruise — stimulating blood flow in the process.

The process can also be administered by a mechanical process.

High performance athletes like Michael Phelps, Alex Naddour, and now Conor McGregor, are known to benefit from the treatment.