Yep, you read the title right! Birch Hill Natural Medicine, in honor of Michael Phelps’ 20th Olympic Gold, is treating patients JUST LIKE MICHAEL PHELPS!!
See these strange-looking circles all over Michael Phelps’ back and shoulders as he dives into the pool? If you’ve been watching the Olympics this summer, then you probably have been wondering what tropical disease he contracted down in Rio, right? Turns out… that’s not it at all.
Ok… fine… you actually came to the page and at least started to read our post. No, we’re not going to treat you like YOU’RE Michael Phelps… you got us! Here’s the skinny: you’ve seen it in the news, Olympic athletes are using cupping, gua sha & acupuncture to minimize their recovery time between events. Notably, this includes the worlds most decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps!
If you’ve only just heard about cupping, gua sha & acupuncture recently on the news; you’re probably wondering what it is and why the sudden craze? So we decided to provide a brief description, some pictures and explanation of each and how they positively affect your body!
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along the skin of the body using thin needles. It can be associated with the application of heat, pressure, or laser light to these points. Classically, acupuncture is individualized and based on philosophy and intuition. It is shown to be effective in treating a wide variety of ailments including all types of musculoskeletal pain, sickness, cancer, and certain diseases that affect the nervous system. Acupuncture can also be used to treat mental health issues as well. Recently it’s come into the mainstream that acupuncture can be highly effective for athletes; so what better time to use acupuncture than when you’re competing in the Olympics!?
Here you see Michael Phelps with these bulbous glass suction devices attached to his back which are literally bubbling his skin up!! This is a technique called cupping and what is actually happening is that the cups pull blood from the surrounding region up towards the cupped area to stimulate healing. The bubble you see produced inside the cup is actually a pocket of blood that has been drawn to that area using the suction of the “cup”. The blood is now working hard to repair damaged muscles, bringing needed nutrients and oxygen to the area and also hauling away lactic acid as it exits! Cupping can help minimize healing/recovery time and in combination with Gua Sha and/or acupuncture can have a powerful affect on anyone! Cupping is great for relieving pain in large muscular areas such as the back, legs, shoulders and arms.
Gua Sha is similar to massage, but using a hard, but smooth edged object. Today they make tools specifically for Gua Sha, but in ancient China they often used a smooth ceramic or wooden spoon! The idea here is to intentionally create a bruising affect on the body by repeatedly “scraping” the body using a Gua Sha tool. We put scraping in quotes there because there is no abrasive effect, but rather scraping is the action that is taken with the object on the skin. In the picture above you can see such a tool being used on an Olympic gymnast after a minor neck injury. As blood rushes to the area, it has a similar affect as cupping in that it aids in the healing process by providing extra nutrients and oxygen while removing toxins and lactic acid from the muscles.
These ancient healing arts have been used for thousands of years across the world in many different forms – this makes them part of who you are and why you are here on this Earth. So, come and experience them for yourself!!
Back pain? Neck Pain? Joint Pain? Want to improve your “game” whatever it is (running, climbing, kayaking, lifting weights, chess – hey! chess is a sport!, etc); make a new patient appointment today and discover how Acupuncture, Gua Sha and Cupping techniques can benefit your health and lifestyle.
Remember… Be Like Michael Phelps!
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