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News coverage of Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps, Dana Vollmer and Alex Naddour covered in purple spots has everyone asking questions. For instance, since when did Michael Phelps and Dana Vollmer begin training with a giant octopus? Are those purple round spots on their bodies caused from the suction cups of giant octopus tentacles?
What really is causing these spots and more importantly why do they do it?
Athletes often use alternative therapies such as the one causing all the spots, a.k.a. ancient Chinese “cupping”, for claims it aids healing, muscle recovery, and blood flow while reducing pain. With strict doping prevention in sports competitions, athletes seek alternative therapies to relieve the pressures put onto their bodies from extensive training. Although there isn’t always scientific research to back up claims of alternative therapies the mental aspect of using such treatments can bring a competitive advantage to an athlete.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been around for thousands of years. Qi (pronounced CHē) is intertwined with TCM, in its simplest form Qi is “energy”. When your Qi is balanced, your body and being are given the healing support needed to regain healthy function. The most common healing modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine are Herbal Medicines or dietary supplements, Tai chi and qi gong, and Acupuncture and Acupressure.
During an acupuncture session, the acupuncture needle acts as a conduit between the patient’s Qi and the practitioner’s Qi. When the needles are placed in key acupoints by a skilled acupuncturist who’s energy frequency matches yours, the stagnant or blocked Qi in your body is allowed to once again flow freely to assist with healing and pain relief.
Since needles can be rather intimidating for many people, there are adjunct therapies often used with TCM, but can stand on their own for their suggested healing benefits. Cupping, like Acupuncture has been an ancient Chinese healing therapy. Cupping therapy became a hot new trend a few years ago with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Anniston proudly sporting the large dark purple or reddish spots generated after a cupping therapy. Most recently, several of the 2016 Rio Olympians, such as Michael Phelps, Dana Vollmer, and Alex Naddour are decorated in the dark bruising spots giving more visibility to this Chinese therapeutic modality.
So what is Cupping?
Cupping as described by the Olympic athletes is “negative massage”. Dana Vollmer stated that only so much relief is obtained from pushing into the muscle. And with Cupping, instead of pushing into the muscle the cupping pulls the muscle up and draws blood to the surface providing relief of pressure. Cupping for athletes is known as myofascial decompression (MFD). In MFD, work is required of the athlete. After the athlete is cupped the physical therapist has the athlete perform specific active movements based on the specific muscles used during their sport. MFD is also used in the traditional cupping therapy for relaxation versus active motion.
Cupping received its name because variously sized glass cups are used as suction devices that are strategically placed on the skin. In the most general terms there are two types of cupping: dry cupping and wet cupping. The glass or sometimes plastic cups have replaced the animal horns of ancient times. For cupping to work, suction in the cups must be created. A dry method known as fire cupping, creates the suction by inserting a fire ball (Using a match lite a cotton swab moistened with alcohol) into the glass cupping jars and quickly removing prior to positioning on the skin. The heat pulls oxygen out of the cup creating a gentle suction raising the skin inside. If fire is too intimidating you can try dry cupping by using specially designed vacuum cups that have small pumps attached to remove the air. Once the superficial muscle tissue is pulled into the cup a therapist can move the cup along with skin while still being attached. This is a widely popular technique that helps to relax tight muscles and promote blood flow in the small capillaries of the body where blood can stagnate. This gliding cupping technique is commonly used for chronic muscle pain.
Wet cupping is believed to release more toxins because it involves drawing out a small amount of blood during the suction procedure. Wet cupping involves removing the cup after it’s first applied and then quickly prick the skin using a needle or make a small cut with a cupping scalpel. Once the cup is replaced a small amount of blood is drawn out from the suction.
Cupping therapy was commonly used by the ancient Chinese to treat pulmonary disorders and still to this day is often used to clear congestion in lungs during a common cold. If you are interested in trying alternative therapies such as cupping, seek out a qualified health expert. It is always best practice to consult your physician prior to any new medical treatments either traditional or alternative.
Since 1997, AllegroMedical.com has been providing pain relief products online. With the addition of our Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Supplies we are now bringing you the popular Cupping Therapy Products used by Therapists on the 2016 US Olympic Team. If you need to purchase Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Supplies, rely on AllegroMedical.com for all of your product needs.
We’re here to support you! After all, support for your body parts can be just as important as any other type, especially when you are in pain.
Allegro is well-known for its great prices and wide selection of pain reducing orthotic splints, braces, slings and supports. We’ve helped support thousands of customers suffering from sprains, sports injuries, post-surgery, fibromyalgia, flat feet, plantar fasciitis, carpel tunnel, tennis elbow, golf elbow, knee pain, back pain – you name it.
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Almost everyone experiences back pain at some time in their lives. For me, and I suspect for most, back pain is surprisingly debilitating and ridiculously persistent. The good news is there are products to help manage back pain or even eliminate it all together.
If your low back pain doesn’t go away after a few days, or you’ve been injured, feel leg tingles, numbness or weakness, call your doctor or chiropractor. But for routine, mild back pain, you can usually reduce the pain on your own.
The first thing to do when you’ve injured your back is to ICE IT! Chilling the area reduces inflammation. Heat does the opposite, and is usually recommended for sore joints, arthritis and chronic pain. Remember, use an ice pack for only 20 minutes per hour – for 24 to 48 hours.
Managing back pain at home and preventing future back problems involves some thought and a little work but it is well worth it. Here are Allegro Medical’s top selling, most popular back relief products.
Best Selling Back Pain Products
Coccyx Cushion – A super popular back pain reliever, the coccyx cushion helps relieve back pain by reducing the pressure on your spine and eliminating painful pressure on your tailbone. It is made of high density memory foam and is slanted so it tilts the pelvis forward to restore the natural lumbar curve. Use it in your car, office, home… anywhere you sit!
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Thermophore Automatic Moist Heat Pack – Heat is often recommended for back pain, joint pain, arthritis or back muscle spasms (remember, cold therapy is usually prescribed first, if area is inflamed), the Thermophore Moist Heat Pack is the optimal choice for natural heat treatments. It delivers very intense, moist heat, but it needs no water because it produces its own moisture from the air. Cool, huh.
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Cervical and Lumbar Traction Devices – Choose from basic to premium home traction systems to enable easy traction without assistance. A cost effective way to continue clinical traction treatments! Consult your physician or chiropractor before use.
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Better Sleep Pillow – Besides eliminating pain from frozen shoulder or rotator cuff injuries and reducing or eliminating snoring, the Better Sleep Side Sleeper also supports your body for proper spinal alignment. It is made of hypoallergenic memory foam. (If you like ’em firm, this could be your dream pillow). Remember, all memory foam smells funny for the first few days out of the box, but the smell goes away.
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Back Supports and Binders– Get fast pain relief and back support where the pain is located. The right binder or support stabilizes and relieves strain on your pelvis and iliosacral joints, reducing back pain.
Shop all Back, Abdominal and Hip Orthotics
Biofreeze Topical Analgesic– Get fast back pain relief with Biofreeze. Roll it, spread it or spray it on for fast acting, penetrating, long lasting pain relief. Contains ILEX, an herbal extract from South America used around the world in various health and wellness formulations.
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Portable Spas and Hot Tubs – Soothe your aching back in the comfort of your own portable heated hot tub! Easy to use and transportable – just snap together, fill and enjoy. Seats 4 adults.
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Massage Chairs – Heated, Swedish, Quad-Roller or Shiatsu, your wish is their command with these portable massaging seat cushions. Your back will love you.
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Back2Life Continuous Motion Massager– Align your spine, relieve pressure and improve mobility with this revolutionary back massager. Back2Life uses Continuous Passive Motion to gently and comfortably lift your tailbone and flex the spine. Just lie back and relax!
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Balance – Core Products – Once you are free of back pain, improve your core strength, maintain power and practice balance with these core products – and you may never have a back problem again.
Here’s to a life free of back pain! We hope these products help. Thanks, as always for being an Allegro customer. We value your business.
Back pain relief is tricky. First there is the business of reducing or eliminating the back pain. Then there are products to prevent the pain from coming back, and if all else fails there are aids to make daily life less painful for those living with chronic back pain.
Allegro Medical sells thousands of products and remedies designed to relieve, treat or prevent back pain. Some products listed below are for those currently suffering from back pain, others are designed simply to reduce back stress for caregivers while moving and caring for patients.
Note: Back pain is so pervasive and its causes so varied that there is no simple answer on how to manage it. I highly recommend that you consult your doctor or see a chiropractor in your quest for relief. You may need a series of adjustments and/or some targeted exercises to eliminate or ease your back pain.
Popular Back Pain Relief Products
Snappy Spa – The newest portable spa on the market, from the makers of the super popular inflatable Spa2Go Portable Whirlpool. Snappy Spa is even better because it’s snappy! Connectors snap together with no special tools and it is insulated for maximum heat retention. Talk about back pain relief! You can use this personal, portable spa anywhere. Fits 4 adults. Get Free UPS Ground Shipping, for a limited time. Order today!
See all Relaxation Products
Kinesio Tape – The effectiveness of this tape is proven to relieve all kinds of pain, including back pain, but only if applied properly. Rather than strapping your muscles, the philosophy of Kinesio Tape is to give free range of motion and allow the body’s muscular system to heal itself bio-mechanically. Read more about Kinesio Tape in What the Heck is Kinesio Tape and why is Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Wearing it?
See all Kineso Related Products
Coccyx Cushion – Relieve your painful tailbone with one of our most popular products ever. The coccyx cushion has a cut-out at the back, thereby reducing pressure on the spine and coccyx while sitting. It can be used with most any seat at home, work or in the car.
See all Coccyx Cushions and Seat and Back Cushions
Hinged Elevated Toilet Seat – Raises the toilet seat by 3″ to help you get on and off. Great for arthritis sufferers, back pain, knee or hip pain.
See all Raised Toilet Seats and Bathroom Assists
Biofreeze – For fast-acting long-lasting relief of minor aches and back pains. Contains ILEX, an herbal extract from South America used around the world in various health & wellness formulations. Contains no waxes, oils, aloe or petroleum.
See all Performance Health Products and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Back Pain Relievers
ColPaC Cold Therapy Cushions – Available in shapes and sizes for all body parts, these ColPaCs are great for temporary relief of back pain. Simply chill in the freezer and apply. You can use them over and over.
Thermotex Infrared Heating Pad – TTS Platinum– The mother of all heating pads for back pain, infrared pad uses a deep heat therapy system to increase ciculation and promote increased blood flow. We just got this Platinum Thermotex back in stock and they are super popular. Get ’em while they’re hot… (I know, I know…)
See all Thermotex Products, Heat / Heating Pads and Hot/Cold Therapy
Confused about Hot or Cold Therapy? Read Arthritis Pain – Which is Best, Heat or Ice?
Deluxe Flexible Sock and Stocking Aid– Is your back pain making it hard to get dressed? Don’t lose your independence. Try one of our dressing aids.
Back Massagers – Relieve muscle tension and minor back aches with these soothing, invigorating massage products. Many choices!
SafetySure Transfer Pivot Disk – Caregivers, listen up. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Ensure you are both safe during patient transfers and avoid painful back injuries with this transfer pivot disk.
See all Transfer Boards and Discs, Transfer Devices and Mobility Transfer Products
Specialty Pillows – Back pain is easily caused or made worse by your sleeping habits. Find relief in our large selection of pillows and get a great night’s sleep. If you’re looking to reduce lower back pain and you are a side sleeper, I recommend getting a Leg Wedge Pillow as well.
Bedridden? Take a look at our bed positioners and wedges
Cervical Traction Devices – Often used to relieve pinched nerves, these home traction sets are very popular and highly rated for reducing back and neck pain.
Intelect TENS Unit – This portable, battery-operated TENs device is “used for the symptomatic relief and management of chronic pain and acute post-surgical or post-trauma pain”. That’s a mouthful, but essentially it zaps your muscles with stimulating pulses that temporarily interrupt pain.
See all Electrotherapy Products
Shoe Insoles and Heel Cups – Help relieve pain in your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back.
Abdominal Binders and Hernia Support – Support for your back, belly and nether regions. See also Maternity Supports and Allegro’s Bariatric Back Support.
Anti-Fatigue Mats – Do you have back pain and fatigue from standing all day? Get a cushy floor mat. I have two of them in my kitchen. I can cook for hours!
Still not finding your back pain remedy? See all 300+ Back Pain Relief Products in our Shop by Condition area. And please remember that Exercise and Fitness play a big role in reducing back pain. It may help if you strengthen your core.
See your doctor before starting any exercise program or if you have questions or concerns about any back pain remedy.
As always, thanks for your business.
Getting older is a blessing, for sure, but even longevity has its price. Creaky, sore joints. Sometimes when I stand up I sound like an old rocking chair making a bag of popcorn. And how about when it rains, or your hands get cold and you can barely bend your fingers? For some, these are just minor aches and pains, but for others they are the result of Osteoarthritis, or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) – the most common type of arthritis. There are many types of arthritis, some more debilitating than others.
Did you know that arthritis affects millions of Americans after the age 50 and women are more often effected by arthritis?
Arthritis is caused when the cartilage in the joint deteriorates over time, causing bones to rub against each other which causes stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. Arthritis typically affects weight bearing joints such as hands, hips, knees and the spine. Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for arthritis, though there are many treatments and products that can relieve pain.
Here is a list of Allegro’s customers’s favorite arthritis remedies, arthritis aides and arthritis pain relief products.
10 Most Popular Arthritis Products
1. Biofreeze – The Biofreeze 4 oz Tube, Biofreeze Roll-on 3 oz , Biofreeze Spray and Biofreez Gel Pump all make on the first page of our Arthritis Products Page and gets very high ratings so it must be good. It is a long lasting topical analgesic & pain reliever that contains ILEX, an herbal extract from South America. See all Biofreeze.
2. Car Caddie Helping Hand – Need a little help getting in and out of the car? This is made just for you. Super popular and highly rated, we’ve sold thousands. Even works to help get kids in and out of your SUV or pickup. Also in the Top 10, a similar product called the Handybar 3 in 1 Car Aid. 5 star rating!
3.Neckpro Cervical Traction Device – At-home traction for relief of neck pain. Uses a unique ratcheting device that delivers a more precise amount of cervical traction tension than the old conventional overdoor neck traction systems. Similar to what you would experience in a clinical setting.
4. Arthritis Gloves– Made of soft breathable cotton lycra, these gloves provide mild compression that warms your hands and helps increase circulation. Open fingertips for full freedom. Wear day or night. For edema, try the Norco Edema Glove that provides compression past your wrist.
5. UpEasy Lifting Cushion – Converts any chair into an automatic lift chair that will lift 80% of your body weight. Adjusts for various weights. Easily transportable with built-in handle.
6. Bamboo Shower Seat and Bath Bench– Its compact triangle shape fits into the shower stall or bathtub and it looks great! Made of eco-friendly bamboo, a 100% renewable resource. Height adjustable, with slip-resistant rubber tipped legs.
7. Light Relief Light Therapy– One of Allegro’s top products for several years now, this light therapy device emits energy in the infrared spectrum to provide topical warmth. A natural alternative to pain medication, the Light Relief eases arthritis pain and stiffness. Includes a travel bag.
8. Thermophore Moist Heat Pack – Moist heat is most often recommended by doctors. Why? Because moisture transfers the high heat deeper into tissues than ordinary dry heat pads providing temporary relief from rheumatic and arthritic pain. Increased blood flow is als a result of moist heat, which can relieve inflamed joints and help maintain flexibility. The heating pad draws moisture from the air and requires no water. Includes soft flannel cover. Also see the highly rated Thermophore Arthritis Pad.
9. Cando Gel Hand Exercise Balls – Recommended for arthritis, these exerise balls are used to help grip, strength, dexterity and mobility, as well as fine and gross motor skills. Can be microwaved or put in the freezer. Very soothing.
10. Spa-N-A-Box Portable Spa – A super economical way to have your own above-ground spa. Soothes arthritis pain for hours. Sets up on about 20 minutes and plugs into a regular household outlet. Put it on your patio, deck, on your boat or even in your c0ndo or apartment! Quiet operation. Seats 4 or 5 people.
BONUS: The Freedom Wand – Toilet Tissue Aid
See hundreds of arthritis products including braces, supports, over-the-counter remedies and medications, daily living aids, bed wedges, pillows, canes and much more in Shop By Condition: Arthritis.
Spring is springing and it’s time to go play in the dirt, right? Not so fast, Marge. Gardening and lawn work will help you find muscles you didn’t know you had if you’re not physically ready for it. Especially if your winter routine didn’t include a lot of bending, reaching and kneeling.
Reduce the risk of injuries, skip the low-back pain and soreness, increase blood flow, improve balance and relieve tension with some quick pre- and post-gardening stretches. The following routine only takes 2 minutes for the warm up and you can use the same stretches afterwards for your cool-down.
1. Neck. Stretch your neck by slowly moving your head from side to side, laying your head first toward one shoulder and then the other. Repeat a couple of times. Now move it front and back with your chin on your chest and then tipped back. Hold for a few seconds.
2. Back and Shoulders. Bend forward at the waist and let your hands hang toward your toes. Roll your shoulders back and around, as if you are shrugging. This elongates your spine and loosens your back. Stand up slowly and place your palms on the back of your pelvis and lean back from the waist. Drop your head back and hold it for a few seconds.
3. Trunk. Reach one arm across your chest. Twist that same direction. While you’re doing that, reach the other arm behind your back. Do this 3 or 4 times, switching arm positions. This works the trunk and opens the spine.
4. Upper torso. Hold your arms straight out at shoulder height. Make fists. Pull your arms back as if you were trying to touch your elbows in the back. Tighten your fists and then push your hands in front again. Roll your shoulders forward to stretch your upper back. Open your hands with your wrists flexing up and spread your fingers as you push forward. Do this several times.
5. Ankles & Lower Body. Lift your knee as high as you can and point your toes toward the ground as far as you can. Then extend your leg forward, with your leg straigh and flex your ankle up, with your toes facing the sky. This will loosen most of your leg.
6. Knees. I like to add a few deep squats and lunges just to get my knees extra warm. Use a rake or chair for balance. While I’m lunging I stretch and flex my fingers. This helps grip strength.
Continue your warm-up in the garden by starting slow. While you work, be mindful and thoughtful about how your body is positioned. Try not to twist a lot or stay in one position too long. Stand up at least every 10 minutes if you’re bent over or on your knees. Make sure you’re using ergonomic garden tools. Read Gardening Made Easy to see what I mean.
Save the heavy lifting for later – say, a half-hour into it. Make sure you’re good and warmed up before you start moving pots and bags of soil.
Drink plenty of water! Set a kitchen timer if you need to be reminded. Every 20 minutes take 5 big gulps.
A good cool-down is even more important than a good warm up. After gardening, don’t just sit down. Take 10 minutes or so and really stretch to keep that lactic acid from building up and making you sore later. Use the stretches above as a guide, but do them slower and longer.
Do you have a tip or a favorite stretch? Please share it!