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Cupping is Spot On

IMG_2487I’m an absolute sucker for health and wellness trends. Most things (not all, i.e. bangs) become a trend for a good reason – they have provided some major benefit to a large majority of people. They tell their friends and co-workers and so on and so on and then boom. It’s everywhere.

I started hearing about cupping, a few months back in some health-related articles as well as photos on Instagram and I was antsy to try it. Then again, recently, I heard about how Michael Phelps used cupping for his Rio performance and then again on Real Housewives of Orange County where Shannon used it to get rid of toxins. Everyone was trying it and I wanted in.

So guess what – I gave in and went to see Dr. Tyler Bowman of Catalyst Sports Med here in Houston.

I figured, if the ancient Chinese healing practice was good enough for the world’s greatest Olympian, then it was good enough for me. (Yes, sarcasm.) And even though I’m not competing for anything on a big stage like Phelps, what’s wrong with a slight competitive advantage in my everyday training to be a healthier person, who not only looks better, but feels better (that is part of my new goal with Equinox)?!

The process is pretty much exactly what you’re thinking. According to a recent NY Times article: “you create suction between the cup and the skin, pulling the skin slightly up and away from the underlying muscles.

The suction typically lasts for only a few minutes, but it’s enough time to cause the capillaries just beneath the surface to rupture, creating the circular, eye-catching bruises that have been so visible on Phelps as well as members of the United States men’s gymnastics team. If the bruising effect looks oddly familiar, it’s because it’s the same thing that happens when someone sucks on your neck and leaves a hickey.”

The article went on to say, “Physiologically, cupping is thought to draw blood to the IMG_2489 affected area, reducing soreness and speeding healing of overworked muscles. Athletes who use it swear by it, saying it keeps them injury free and speeds recovery.”

Again, why not?

Based on the Real Housewives reaction of the therapy, I was expecting it to hurt ultra bad, but it was more uncomfortable than anything (although, keep in mind, there are levels to the suction – mine was a lot less than Mr. Olympian Phelps).

Dr. Bowman explained that cupping is basically the inverse to a massage (which I also love!). Massages push into the muscles whereas cupping pulls (theoretically) the toxins and blood flow. The process helps with circulation, which most anyone could benefit from and it pulls the toxins – the ones lingering throughout your body usually responsible for causing pain – to the surface. So yes, just like a massage, drink plenty of water afterwards, but you are encouraged to do things (like workout) with increased blood flow to maximize benefits.

Oddly enough, I was kind of hoping for weird bruises like Phelps, but so far, just some small red spots. I’m excited to see if this healing therapy has any semi-longterm effect on my training, but I’ve read multiple studies that say the extent of benefits may just be from a placebo affect, and honestly, I’m OK with that.

Cupping: the day after

Cupping: the day after

As I get older and my life gets busier and more hectic, I need any advantage to training and staying in shape. If a treatment makes me think I can work harder and recover faster, then that truly is half the battle.

And at the end of the day, if it isn’t harmful and there’s a chance it can help, I’m all for it. I have suffered with neck and back pain for too long. And to be clear – while many are calling this a new trend, it isn’t new at all. It’s been around for nearly 2,000 years. Almost as long as Lou Holtz. We are just finally catching on to it.

Living a healthier lifestyle is all part of the “new me” living at the Millennium Kirby, and being so close to so many great places, like Dr. Bowman make it all easier. [SPONSORED]