01288 359599
item(s) £0.00

Cupping Therapy vs Compression - Which Works Best?

The Olympic games has now been and gone and according to most reports it has been an unqualified success. And while the sport and competition obviously dominated, the games also provided an insight into how top athletes prepare for and recover from their activity.

Much of the talk during the games was of the very public effects of “cupping”, the technique used by Michael Phelps to improve blood flow and ease aches and pains, improving recovery times after training sessions and competitions.

These games also showed a wide range of compression products which are also designed to aid recovery through improving blood flow through the body. So which method is the best?


According to Men’s Health magazine, cupping therapy is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that is purported to treat athletic aches and pains. It’s performed by an acupuncturist, who will soak a cotton ball in alcohol and light it on fire inside a glass cup. The flame is removed and the placed on the patient’s skin, creating a vacuum that draws up the skin tissue.

This is intended to improve the blood flow and also to stimulate antibodies, that react to the inflammatory effect of the treatment. This mobilisation of antibodies is intended to treat pain such as back pain and fibromyalgia.

But despite the high profile endorsements of Olympic athletes, there is little evidence to suggest that it actually works. While there is some evidence to suggest that it can help with conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and back and neck pain, there is little to suggest that this is much more than a placebo effect.


Compression has been an established and effective form of treatment for many different type of people and ailments for a long time. Compression clothing such as socks or stockings is designed to improve the circulation, relieve tired and aching legs and alleviate the symptoms of issues such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

Compression works by improving the flow of blood , preventing blood from pooling in specific areas of the body such as your legs and circulating it throughout your body.

Athletes have been increasingly turning to compression clothing to improve recovery times after exercise, with research showing that it alleviates muscle pain and damage and improves performance and endurance.

At this stage, the science points to compression clothing being more effective for relieving aches and muscle pain and improving the flow of blood around the body than cupping. It’s also much easier to do, with compression sports clothing becoming more affordable as the technology improves.

It also has benefits away from the track or pitch, with compression used to prevent blood clots during long haul flights and also alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins.

When weighing up the benefits of both methods, compression clothing seems to come out on top not only for athletes looking to improve endurance and recovery times, but for anyone that is looking to improve their circulation and blood flow.