'Phelps' circles were only a light purple. Mine, to my horror, were nearly black'
Our reporter Aidan O'Doherty gets 'cupped' a la Michael Phelps
'I was going into the unknown here - cupping is a complete mystery to me. I entered Dr Acupuncture (great name) on Henry Street with a slight sense of trepidation - what was I letting myself in for (besides ridicule from my colleagues over the inevitable pictures)?
I had seen the purple marks on Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps in Rio and thought that, if it aided him in increasing his ever-expanding medal haul, then it was good enough for me.
The Chinese medical practitioner who was to apply the cups doesn't speak English, but Dr Acupunture's Mike Zhang kindly acted as an interpreter to inform me of what was going on and explain that cupping is used in Chinese households in the same way that we in the West run for the first aid box.
The doctor applied 10 glass cups, the size of an orange, to my naked back, heating them beforehand, so the air inside them contracts, forming the negative pressure needed to bring blood to the surface. The sensation was not at all unpleasant as I felt the suction forming and being maintained. Being male, and large (in a need-to-go-to-the-gym fashion), I was able to take a greater number of cups. For females, it would be less.
Since this was my first session, the cups were only left for a few minutes on my skin, so as to prevent permanent damage to it. I was informed that the dark marks which form are the toxins leaving my body as the cupping helps open up channels of qi, or the body's life force, and improve circulation. Phelps' circles were only a light purple. Mine, to my horror, were nearly black, making me think my toxicity levels are through the roof.
I then received a massage, which highlighted how much my job as a desk jockey is playing havoc with my back muscles. The jury is out as to the benefits of cupping, but combined with the work of the doctor's iron fingers, my muscles did feel a lot freer. Next time I think I'll go for acupuncture instead."
Dr Acupuncture is Ireland-wide: see dracupuncture.ie