Trail Blazers and cupping: New treatment leaves its mark on the players

Chris Stackpole, the Blazers' Director of Health and Performance, has used several cutting edge techniques to treat the players. His latest is cupping, which uses suction to promote blood flow and healing. (The Oregonian)

When Nicolas Batum returned home from work on Wednesday, the Trail Blazers forward got a startled look from his girlfriend.

Batum had two rows of circular marks - five on each side of his backbone - that looked like something between a hickey and a tattoo.

Batum said her eyes got big, and her suspicion raised.

"She asked, 'What have you been doing?''' Batum said.

The answer: Batum had been cupping, a new form of treatment introduced to the team this season from Chris Stackpole, the Blazers' Director of Player Health and Performance.

Center Chris Kaman is the most frequent user of Stackpole's latest implementation, and he too has the circular marks on his back. Kaman is so enthralled and impressed with the treatment he has had it performed on his back, shoulders and thigh.

Cupping is an alternative treatment form where suction cups are placed on an area to promote blood flow, and therefore accelerate the healing process.

"It's scientific stuff,'' Kaman said. "I could sit here and talk to you about it, but you wouldn't know what I was talking about. I'm not calling you dumb it's just a mixture of Western and Eastern medicines and some people think it works, some people don't.

"I find it works pretty good,'' Kaman said.

Stackpole, the Boston University whiz kid hired before last season, is not made available to the media.

Kaman is in his 12th NBA season, and first with the Blazers. He said he had never tried the treatment before until Stackpole approached him.

"The guy here, he really knows his stuff,'' Kaman said. "He's a smart guy, really studied up on these things. It's just another form of interesting treatment.''

Kaman and Batum said the cupping sessions can last anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes to 15 minutes, depending on the area and the level of soreness.

"It works,'' Batum said.

The practice can be traced back to the Egyptians in 1,550 B.C. and recent studies are beginning to suggest the practice could help ease the wear and tear on the spinal discs in the neck and back.

The idea is the suction draws fluid out of the area, Kaman explained, allowing tissues to heal more quickly.

Kaman said he is usually a no-frills treatment type guy - for example he says he never ices injuries - and he needed convincing when Stackpole approached him. But after learning about the process and the benefits, Kaman was sold.

"I try to keep things simple,'' Kaman said. "But if something is going to be done to my body, or if I'm going to put something into my body, I like to learn about it.

"That's why I was so disappointed that the GMO labeling (Measure 92) got shot down by 1 percent,'' Kaman said. "I couldn't believe that. I'm surprised people don't want to know what's in their food. It shocks me ... a shame.''

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