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Chinese cup therapy making a big comeback

Check out ORU baseball player Cale Tims getting his weekly cupping treatment

The ORU training staff recently began using one of the newest treatments in sports medicine. Myofascial Decompression (MFD), or “cupping” as it has been coined, was recently seen in use at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and is growing more popular among athletic trainers internationally.

MFD is a new version of ancient Chinese cup therapy.  The method uses negative pressure (suction) through glass cups to raise the skin and allow for increased blood flow to targeted areas of the body. The cups stay in place for about 3-5 minutes and the improved circulation promotes quicker healing and recovery time for muscles.

Athletic trainer Trisha Shannon brought the new technique to the ORU training staff this year. Shannon learned the treatment in March at the University of California-San Francisco from Assistant Clinical Professor Chris DaPrato. DaPrato taught the technique to trainers and physical therapists who used the it at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“It’s definitely a newer technique. Now that it’s been in the Olympics everybody knows what it is. There are probably five or six ORU athletes a week that get the [MFD] treatment done,” said Shannon. “If one of the other certified trainers thinks it would help or I think it would help, we decide as a whole if they should get it done.”

ORU Baseball pitcher Cale Tims gets the MFD treatment regularly and has gotten accustomed to the unusual therapy that he considers effective.

“I’d say the closest thing to compare it to is the feeling you get when you put the end of a vacuum against your skin only stronger,” said Tims.

There are certain risks and possible side effects from the treatment like poor circulation and endocrine issues, but most of them are from overuse or receiving treatment from someone who has not been trained properly.

Some athletes require longer-term MFD treatment, but most athletes only require a few sessions.

“Someone like Cale, who uses his arms all the time, he’s going to have scar tissue built up. So that is something you would probably continue to use it on, said Shannon. “But someone who just had a quad injury who we want to get back on the field might only have two or three treatments.”

Shannon is currently the only trainer on staff qualified to administer MFD treatments, which limits the number of athletes who can get the treatment done, but Tims says more ORU athletes are giving it a try. 

“It can get pretty intense, but the next day my body feels much better than in times past,” said Tims. “Based on the results I’ve experienced, I’d tell anyone who’s sore to try it.”

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