It was the talk of the town in the Olympic village this summer and had people all around the world Googling ‘what are those odd marks on Michael Phelps’ body?’
For once, it wasn’t the usual haul of gold medals around the swimmer’s neck but large spherical shapes ‘tattooed’ across his torso in domino-like fashion.
The reason? Hijama therapy (or ‘cupping’ for short).
Amara Deen, from Dewsbury, is one of the few local therapists carrying out the ancient art of hijama in Yorkshire. She first experienced the treatment herself a few years ago.
After studying at the ‘The Hijama Clinic’ based in Luton, she set up her own business from home and currently caters for people of all ages and backgrounds under the company name – ‘The Perfect Hijama Clinic’.
Hijama therapy is a natural holistic treatment which sees blood extracted from the body, between the skin and muscle tissue. The therapist places special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction, which many customers have said is ‘extremely relaxing’.
Wet cupping – where blood is drawn out of the body – is the more effective treatment, yet many athletes opt for the dry cupping option which has also been proven to improve recovery time and sore muscles.
People opt for hijama therapy for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.
Amara said: “If the circulation is improved, then all the major internal organs benefit because they perform better.
“This is the only treatment which doesn’t involve you putting anything into the body, you’re just taking toxins out.”
The concept of hijama therapy dates back to when time began and is traditionally an ancient Islamic treatment.
“As long as history has been recorded, hijama or cupping has been mentioned,” Amara added.
“It helps so many people with aches, pains and general illnesses. The minimum age we will work with is 18 unless they have consent from the doctor.”
The entrepreneurial mother of three added: “We do a full consultation before we do the treatment. If we feel that it’s safe to go ahead, then we carry out a session which can last for around 20 minutes to an hour and a half.”
Readers will have seen hijama being used on Olympic athletes in Rio last month, where hijama was touted to treat a range of pain-based conditions.
Along with boosting athletic recovery, it has been used to manage conditions like lower back pain and fibromyalgia.
“It’s fantastic for helping to repair muscles. If you’ve got any tight, stressed-out or damaged muscles, it can localise that pain and help with the healing,” Amara said.
To experience the holistic hijama therapy yourself, contact the Perfect Hijama Clinic today on 07903 079 340