What Are The Marks on Michael Phelps?

Besides just watching crazy-good athletes perform unbelievable feats, one of the best parts of the Olympics (USA! USA!) is hearing all the back-stories! Seriously, does anyone NOT get sucked in to watching women’s rugby (did not even know this was an Olympics sport!?!) or watching a three-hour bike race? I would never even think about pausing on that channel any other time. But call it the Olympics and I AM ALL IN!!! I love to hear the stories about the adversity some of these athletes have endured, the long, long, long hours of training and the unbelievable sacrifices by them and their families. And then there are the injuries. A girl (#BrookeSweat) with a torn rotator cuff is playing beach volleyball! Whatttt?? That would put most of us on bed rest! I wonder what country is leading in the number of broken bones and potential career-ending injuries?

So it’s no surprise that these athletes do everything they can to prevent injury and nurse problems they're coming into the competition with. Cortisone shots, hydrotherapy, lots of ice, then lots of heat….or is it lots of heat then the ice? One therapy getting lots of attention is CUPPING. Seen the marks on Michael Phelps and others that look like big red circles? That’s actually a treatment to help muscles. AND IT WORKS!!! Yep, I’ve had this done. I had a shoulder that was heading to the frozen point. I did months of physical therapy and dry needling (maybe I will explain that another time :/ ) and was diligent about doing my at-home exercises. Months! Then a friend told me about a wonderful masseuse who had helped her with a shoulder problem. So I gave it a shot. She was amazing and hit lots of areas that needed attention. Shoulders are so complicated! Then she suggested cupping and explained how it would work. I was reluctant (would it hurt?) but I really wanted to regain the last range of motion I was missing so I said yes.

First, there is no pain. Yes, you can feel it but it doesn’t hurt. So yay for that! Over the next week, my shoulder felt better and better and soon after that, I realized it was fine. Full motion! I'm sure it was combination of all the therapies I tried but I was at a stand still. Not willing to give up, this was the last part of the puzzle.

Side effects? The only one is the mark left behind but if fades after a week or so.

How does it work? Good question! A little background first. It has been popular in China since around 1000 BC or maybe before. It's very common, like acupuncture, in Eastern medicine. So it’s been working for them for a long, long time. The suction cups expand the capillaries and increase the amount of fluid going in and out of tissues. It targets soft tissue by applying local pressure to pain points and increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to promote healing. It’s also used to increase immune function by moving blood and supporting lymphatic function. This helps with lots of problems including lung function, IBS, congestion and colds and flu. I’ve also heard of people using it for digestive problems!

Here’s what it accomplishes: It relaxes tense muscles and eases stiffness. It helps reduce joint pain and lessens chronic back and neck pain. It helps with migraines, rheumatism and frozen shoulder. Just be sure you go to someone who is trained in the procedure! I wouldn’t want a rookie performing acupuncture on me either!