Anthony Joshua proved he was still a serious threat in boxing’s heavyweight division after dismantling Francis Ngannou in only the second round with a brutal knockout back in March. And, while the Watford, England born power-puncher spends hours in the gym, he is also an avid recovery fan. In a video posted to his 17 million Instagram followers this week, AJ revealed that he has been receiving cupping therapy.

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What is cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy is a from of alternative medicine dating back thousands of years to ancient times. As shown in the dramatic video, purpose designed cups are placed on the skin. A vacuum is then created, often via a rubber pump, forcing the skin to rise and the blood vessels to expand. There are different types of cupping including dry; which provides a massage like treatment. The cups can also be moved around (known as “running”), and there’s also wet (or bleeding) cupping therapy; where tiny incisions are made in the skin to allow small quantities of blood to be drawn out.


So why is Anthony Joshua cupping with so many cups on his body?

Most commonly, therapists will place between three and five cups on the body. For more established patients, that number might go up to seven cups. “It’s uncommon to get more than seven cups in a single treatment,” explains the Cleveland Clinic. The bizarre sight of the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world with dozens of cups placed around his arms, chest, and neck certainly caught the attention of his Instagram followers. “Like the old joke goes, how many lightbulbs does it take to turn on Anthony Joshua,” quipped one user. “Well, this made me itch,” commented another. Joshua didn’t provide a reason for why he was wearing so many cups, but its safe to assume that this wasn’t this first session.

Does cupping therapy work?

While there is little scientific research on the benefits of cupping, this long-standing form of therapy may ease the following ailments:

  • Arthritis
  • Back, neck, knee and shoulder pain
  • Asthma and other respiratory issues
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Headaches and migraines
  • High blood pressure

Cupping bruises the skin, but these fade within a few days, and while there is the potential to pick up a skin infection, patients are usually treated in a sterile environment and given an antibiotic ointment. On the whole, cupping is a relatively risk-free treatment, meaning that for elite athletes like AJ who are looking for an edge, the increased blood flow experienced here may be great for recovery. “Plant with success,” says the man himself. “Looks like a 1920s radio!” observed an IG user. As he continues his hunt to reclaim boxings heavyweight crown, Anthony Joshua cupping to these extremes suggests he’s leaving no stone unturned in his quest to be the best physical specimen that he can be.

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