Olympic athletes put ‘cupping’ and alternative medicine in the spotlight

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An ancient Chinese therapy taking center stage at the Olympics might look scary, but athletes swear by its effectiveness.

“Cupping,” where cups are placed on the skin to create suction, is used for everything from treating flu symptoms to enhancing recovery in athletes.

Many got a first glimpse of the round red cup marks left by cupping on Gwyneth Paltrow’s back in 2004. The actress said she turned to alternative medicine to help alleviate back pain and rid her body of toxins.

“Instead of getting a massage where they press and press into the muscle and create all these micro tears, which can further add to inflammation, it’s gently pulling up on the skin, and it’s infusing the area with new blood,” explained Dana Hoffman, a licensed acupuncturist.

Hoffman was not surprised Michael Phelps, who has been training hard and giving his body a beating, was sporting the deep, dark rings on his shoulders as he competed in the men’s 4x100 relay Sunday night. Hoffman said many athletes turn to cupping in order to avoid painkillers and other medication.

“[Phelps is] getting accelerated recovery, so instead of taking anti-inflammatories, the cupping will free things up and it will be probably a 180-degree change within minutes,” Dana Hoffman said.

The procedure typically takes about 15 minutes to complete and can cost from $50 to $130 per session.

To learn more about Dana Hoffman and Midwest Acupuncture Group, check out www.midwestacupuncturegroup.com or call (312) 834-7889.

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