Maybe you have noticed the circular bruises on the backs of some of the athletes at the Olympics and wondered what they were. Well, wonder no longer, because I know. It is the only thing that the incredible 23 gold medal champion Michael Phelps and I have in common. Both of us are fans of CUPPING.


What the hell is cupping? I know many of you are uttering those very words as you read this. Well, do let me try to explain. Cupping is an ancient Chinese healing practice which uses heated cups (usually glass) placed on certain areas of the body to improve circulation and to stimulate the flow of fresh blood through the lymphatic system. The benefits of cupping are numerous. Sliding cupping, where the cups are moved along a channel, is an excellent form of deep tissue release as well as removing stagnated lymphatic fluid, thus supporting the body’s circulatory system.cupping

Cupping usually follows after a diagnostic massage where specific points of tension are identified. Fire cupping uses a strong suction on the skin and provides warmth whilst the cups’ pressure breaks up the lactic acid in the tissue fibres.


As blood flow increases within the vessels and capillaries, tissues receive much-needed nutrients and oxygen. A treatment  usually involves pressure massage, heat, suctioning and needles above or below the site of injury, allowing for energy to travel along the “channels” (meridians) which pass through the site of tension or injury, helping the body to heal more quickly.cups

Why would people get it done?

Athletes such as Phelps and tennis star Andy Murray use it to stretch and ease aching muscles. The therapist can target injured areas and by increasing the blood flow help speed up recovery. Phelps’ phenomenal achievements are only possible because of how he cares for his body and cupping, he claims, helps him do this.

So now to me! Why do I have cupping?

About six years ago, I became very unwell – I had no energy and just collapsed on the sofa every evening after school, while in the early hours of each morning, I would be wide awake, pacing the floor. Boil appeared on my legs, which were numb between the knees and ankles.


Blood tests showed an extremely low white blood cell count so my concerned GP sent me to various consultants. Nothing sinister was found but my increasing lethargy (I was then unable to get out of bed) and leg numbness remained. While waiting with some trepidation for a lumbar puncture, I visited Lisa Cassidy for the first time in six months.

I have known Lisa for about 15 years. Originally a beauty therapist, she was always interested in health and alternative medicine, so studied acupuncture and Chinese medicine and many of its related disciplines to become an exceptionally talented alternative health practitioner. I am always amazed by her extensive knowledge, her empathy and her willingness to give of her time and expertise.

Her diagnosis was that my lymphatic system wasn’t working.  She used cupping to boost my immune system and activate the lymphatic system. I just lay there feeling that I had some hope of getting better and crying with relief that Lisa was in charge. I went home with red marks on my back which over the next week changed to a deep purple colour and then gradually faded away.

DSC_1616 bruisesThe darker the bruise, the bigger the blockage! This, together with acupuncture and lymphatic massage all provided by Lisa, put me on the road to recovery and better health. I never did need that lumbar puncture and within three months, I was back at work. The photo below shows a healthy smiling me today enjoying life thanks to an alternative approach. paulas

I go to Lisa once every month now and she is quick to pick up on any problem. My white blood cell count remains very low and I don’t have great energy any more, but I stay healthy, due, I believe to my visits to Lisa. So I can understand why these Olympic athletes use cupping to help give them a legitimate edge over their opponents! The sceptics just have to look at Phelps and his amazing achievements.