What Michael Phelps and I have in common…

cupping and acupuncture

While I can assure you that I enjoy swimming laps in my back yard pool, gold medal-winning swimming abilities are not what I have in common with Mr. Phelps.

It’s cupping!

Yes, Michael Phelps created quite the stir at the Rio Olympics with the circular purple spots on his back from “cupping”—a healing therapy that has been popular in China since as far back as 3000 BC.

Phelps swears by the technique, having it done before pretty much every meet he competes in.

Here’s the scoop on cupping, and why I’m a big fan now too:

Cupping—ancient Chinese medicine at its finest
Practitioners of the healing technique called cupping place specialized cups (usually made out of glass or plastic) on the skin. Then they use either heat or an air pump to create suction between the cup and the skin, pulling the skin slightly up and away from the underlying muscles.

The suction can last for anywhere from a few seconds up to several minutes, and causes the capillaries under the skin surface to expand, increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving the tissues and promoting healing.

Oh, and also creating a large purple circle that is basically a big hickey.

In addition to encouraging healing, cupping therapy provokes a relaxation response in many people, which means it’s useful for lowering stress and its harmful effects.

Cupping has also been shown to be helpful for these health issues:

  • Easing anxiety and depression (due to its relaxation properties)
  • Promoting skin health
  • Improving digestion (especially in conjunction with stress-related conditions like IBS)
  • Boosting immune health
  • Reducing joint and muscle pain

Many Eastern medicine practitioners use cupping in conjunction with or in addition to acupuncture.

While much of the Western mainstream medical world poo-poo’s cupping (and acupuncture for that matter) because there aren’t loads of modern scientific studies proving its benefits, history speaks for itself.  This has been done for CENTURIES, people swear by it, it’s FAR safer than any drug or surgery, and there are virtually no side effects (besides hickeys on your back).

That’s good enough for me.

Why me?
I have become a fan of cupping and acupuncture because of recent challenges with my back.

Let’s put it this way—I’ve been doing martial arts (including full-contact fighting) for 13 years, I’m currently training for a marathon, running distances of 14 to 18 miles at a time, and I’ll be 54 years old tomorrow—not exactly a spring chicken.

So it’s safe to say I challenge my body pretty rigorously…and it needs a little TLC!

I cannot say enough about how much cupping and acupuncture have helped me.  The soreness in my back and shoulders has decreased dramatically, I no longer experience neck pain and stiffness, and I’m even sleeping much more soundly at night.

Embrace natural solutions
If you have health challenges and are sick of what I call the “white coat treadmill”—you go to the doctor, get a pill, that pill stops working or causes side effects, so you go back, get another pill, then that pill stops working or causes side effects, so you get another pill, and so forth—I encourage you to embrace safe, natural solutions.

In addition to acupuncture and cupping, there’s also chiropractic care which does wonders for all kinds of conditions over and above back problems.

Also, check out herbal remedies—for instance, deglycerrhized licorice and ginger have been shown to be tremendously helpful with indigestion and heartburn.

Plus take advantage of the natural power of nutritional supplementation:

  • You can’t beat the anti-inflammatory power of fish oil when it comes to easing aches and pains, helping with depression and even lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.  Believe me, with all the training I do, I would never be without my fish oil!
  • Probiotics are outstanding for immune support, more efficient digestion and better nutrient absorption.
  • And a top-notch multi-vitamin and mineral formula can help ensure that all your nutritional bases are covered.  Nutritional deficiencies are a root cause of most sickness and disease, so it’s essential to make sure your body has what it needs to keep YOU healthy!

While modern medicine certainly has helped many people, there’s a lot to be said for natural solutions, and they should definitely be something you should turn to when faced with health challenges.


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