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ARCHIVE FOR MONTH: NOVEMBER 2016

By Saravana Sekar
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If you want to reach optimal levels of health and wellness, then you must be willing to step out of ‘normal’ routines we can get sucked into. Your body will respond to what you do, what you put in, or or what you want it to become; no sugar coating here, it’s as plain and simple. For a while, I convinced myself I was training hard, recovering enough, taking advantage of my education, and was disciplined with my nutrition… but what I actually? Each day we are exposed to an ever-changing environment, where our daily demands seem to be just out of reach, compiling mental stress and battling the urge to breakdown every now and again. Couple that mixture with physiological stress from exercise, and then the normal everyday tasks we engage in, and if not resolved can be a messy situation without time to clean up.

Take a second and picture what you feel you want to be. Your appearance, emotions, attitudes, relationships, possessions, family. Those are all very important, but what about your state of physical being? Before all else, who we are inside and out will ultimately influence all other traits that show your personality! We overlook the most important processes to living; that what we do directly to our bodies determines all other outcomes, or in other words, you reap what you sow. So if you fuel yourself with crap, then expect your energy, mood, health, and achievements become crap too. The affection of Self-Love is so often underemphasized, and we all need to find our own path back to what makes us whole and complete before anything else. This article is just one example on ‘self-love’ that I found to help me learn what was happening to my body as a beneficial learning experience. Whether it is meditation, yoga, creating, reading, massage, music, a nice hot bath, or mentally separating stress from positive experience, find what will benefit YOU most. Because maintaining a happy and healthy well-being will help elicit the same effects onto anything you allow time for. And if you muster up a reason as to why you can’t “find time” to dedicate on yourself, think of this;

“THE HARDEST WALK IS WALKING ALONE. BUT IF YOU LET IT, IT’S THE WALK THAT CAN MAKE YOU THE STRONGEST.”
Now please enjoy my experience to help reinforce a better me, and may you too continue on your own path!!

“What the hell are those red bruises all over Michael Phelps?”

This ‘new trend’ of Cupping Therapy has skyrocketed in popularity since the most decorated Olympian in history publicly dominated in his incredible return to swimming. But what is the hype all about? When we think of ancient medicinal practices, what comes to mind are:

  • Acupuncture

  • Massage

  • Tai Chi

  • Yoga

  • Herbal Medicine

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Cupping is a lesser known treatment that is also a part of Oriental Medicine that has benefits for both pleasure and performance. One of the earliest documentation of cupping can be dated back to 300 A.D. It was originally intended to draw out poison from venomous bites, infectious wound care, pulmonary diseases, and respiratory problems. Through the natural advancement we have, it has been introduced for muscle relaxation and recovery, as well as relief of chronic pain, overuse, and repetitive muscular stress…. In other words, it can have some profound benefits to our well-being!

WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS?
There are two types that the practitioner can use for you:

Swabbing rubbing alcohol onto the bottom of the glass cup, then lighting it with a flame and putting the cup immediately against the skin. The heat of the glass created that suction seal against the skin, but the fire itself is never used near the skin and are not lit throughout the process of cupping, so no need to worry about getting all hot and bothered (by the flame at least).
Plastic or silicone cups are applied to the skin with an adjustable valve to create suction. This is not the traditional method, but it is highly portable and a safer alternative to practice, with a slightly less sensual experience.
Since I have only received the first type, I cannot say if one is more effective than the other, but I encourage either to be tried!

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Cupping Therapy is a negative pressure technique, and through its suction will help soften tight muscles, makes tendons and soft tissue happy, loosens adhesions and gives you not-so-sexy hickeys. This is the opposite sensation of a manual massage. Rather than pressing into our skin and kneading our fascia, the suction acts as a vacuum and stretches connective tissue and the muscle itself to induce recovery and relaxation (mentioned above). That effect helps promote blood flow to the area, alleviate pain, and relaxes tissues.The cups are positioned and moved depending upon areas of “toxic release” (the circular marking) which will indicate what will need more attention. Those “bruises” you see are from oxygen-rich blood entering the skin-cupping-photoarea, relieving stagnation and toxin from the area; this is the desired effect! The darker the discoloration, the more ‘damaged’ the area was, meaning it’s a good thing you got it taken care of!

This same suction also brings hydration and blood flow to body tissues, and aids lymphatic pathways to flow more efficiently (a vital part of the immune system to fight infection, virus and bacteria). Four to six hours following a treatment you should avoid any strenuous activity, so be sure to get your daily dose of training in prior! Since cupping opens the pores and because of the absorption that is possible, avoiding extreme temperature change should be avoided to remain as comfortable as possible. Finally, drinking more water than typically necessary after treatment is helpful for oxygenating cleansed tissues.

If you haven’t been convinced by this point to give it a whirl, take quick look at this study from 2011; It concluded that cupping was not only effective for pain relief and has nil side effects!

PERSONALLY, WHAT I THINK IS…
It was phenomenal! Sure, I have some very dark spots, but it is all a valuable learning experience, not to mention extremely relaxing with a sense of immediate pain relief. I thought of doing it because I’m a fiend for finding new ways to improve my well-being in all aspects of humanity. However, over the past week or so I’ve had some prolonged soreness, and noticed a decrease in my performance, focus and energy levels, so I decided to roll the dice and just go for it. Since I am still recovering from shoulder surgery, I still have noticeable imbalances between my left and right limbs. the majority of my ‘problem areas’ lie in my right scapular muscles, some neck stiffness, and difficulty getting into a rock-solid overhead position still. The cups were initially lined along the midline of my spine and remained there for 5 minutes, then shifted to the outer areas along my back/shouldeimg_2906rs/neck for 5 minutes, then glided in a seemingly random pattern before letting them stay in place once again. By that point, she said my right side was much, much darker than my left, which instantly made sense since that is my recovering shoulder. From there, the focus shifted to the areas that showed needed more attention (a.k.a. the more toxin released) but still with no pain. It simply felt like someone stuck a warm vacuum nozzle to your skin and moved around everywhere that just felt great. Well after my hour session, I felt instantly much more relaxed and was advised to not train the rest of the day, except I did yoga :), and gave my back a good look in the mirror and…. BOOM! Yeah, super intense markings on my shoulders, low back, neck, basically everywhere! It made so much sense why I was experiencing onset fatigue and soreness I just couldn’t seem to shake. I’m now 24 hours post treatment and:

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  • Slept 100% More Comfortable

  • Improved Range of Motion

  • Breathing Ability Improved

  • Did a Few Extra #2’s…it aids digestion, (p)oops

  • Training Today Better Than Last Week

I will absolutely have to perform a few more sessions to see the prolonged benefits, but so far am completely convinced on the positive attributes it can provide!

Wishing You Great Health and Strength,

Coach Sean