Several Olympic athletes, including swimmer Michael Phelps, have appeared in Rio with odd-looking circular marks on their bodies. These marks are the result of “cupping therapy,” a traditional Chinese medicinal practice for muscle healing. But does it really work?
The political climate in Brazil has many questioning the wisdom of holding this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio. Between the country’simpeachment of the president, poor infrastructure, terrible recession,sea pollution, and the Zika virus, Brazil is in the midst of chaos and turmoil. As the Olympics torch arrived in Rio De Janeiro, protests over the high cost of the games marred the ceremony. Police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd of hundreds of demonstrators.
That popping sound brings even the strongest athletes to their knees. Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, the ligament at the knee that holds together the upper and lower leg bones, can be a painful and debilitating injury for athletes and non-athletes alike, leading to further tears and arthritis over the long term.
In the past couple decades, sports science has made giant strides on every front — conditioning, nutrition, recovery, equipment, surgery, injury prevention. But all those gains come with a big asterisk: a reminder that individual results may vary. Some athletes respond seemingly overnight to high-intensity interval training; some see middling results. Some enjoy amazing recoveries from knee-ligament reconstructions; others never really heal. For athletes who feel like they’re doing everything right, this seeming arbitrariness can be discouraging and infuriating.