Sports Injury! How Cupping and Cold Lasers Helped Me Heal

June 27, 2019

What’s the No. 1 reason people get hurt playing sports?    1. Dehydration.   2. Overuse.  3. Russian interference with our elections.

Bingo if you answered No. 2: overuse. Overuse injuries happen when you’re pushing your body too hard, too soon, before it has the strength and flexibility to do what you’re asking.

Last week, I asked my body to go kayaking, one of my favorite ways to spend time in nature. For several happy hours, I paddled on an idyllic little wilderness lake in the north woods of Wisconsin, 13 miles from the closest grocery, only 7 miles from the largest selection of fresh brats I’ve ever seen. Pork brats, beef brats, beef-and-cheese brats, even chicken brats with spinach and feta that I rarely eat but can’t resist when I’m this deep into Mosquito-land.

But I digress. Back to my injury and what I learned about two healing therapies that are noninvasive treatments for pain, tissue damage and inflammation. I had researched these complementary therapies before, but I’d never experienced them myself. Until last Thursday…

After the second day of kayaking — such fun! love those loons! — I was putting my gear away and decided to do some overhead stretches with my paddle.

It’s the same move I’ve done in yoga many times, using my strap. I held the paddle out in front of me, hands spread wide, and then gently lifted it over my head and behind my back.

No pain, no strain, everything feeling very All Is Well … until about 3:30 in the morning, when I woke up suddenly with a screaming right shoulder. Yikes! What have I done?

I knew immediately. My post-kayaking stretch with a heavy paddle brought on an overuse injury. Like every active person, I’ve had muscle strains before. Usually, it would mean resting, icing the injured area, medicating the pain and hoping to get back to kayaking in a few weeks. Bummer.

The next morning, fortunately, I remembered Lori, an experienced bodyworker who runs the Boulder Junction Wellness Center, just 30 minutes beyond the brat shop. She squeezed me in for an appointment that afternoon.

Lori knew just what to do, and it didn’t involve a pitcher of margaritas. She has experience and special training in two types of healing therapies that are gaining in popularity but are still relatively unknown when it comes to mainstream Western medicine.

One is called cold laser therapy, not to be confused with hot laser therapy. Hot lasers cut or destroy tissue; cold lasers relieve pain, stimulate healing and have been approved by the FDA for treating a range of conditions, including sprains, tendinitis, back pain and arthritis.

Lori’s other healing tool is massage cupping, a treatment that uses suction and release to relieve inflammation, stimulate blood flow and flush toxins from the wounded area.

It’s a variation on a Chinese medicine technique thousands of years old, now back in style because cupping worked so well for Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Phelps and others. One caveat: It doesn’t hurt, but you may look like a spotted giraffe for a few days. (Lori’s MediCupping machine doesn’t leave marks. Just saying …)

Read Dr. Norman Doidge’s fascinating book “The Brain’s Way of Healing” to understand how cold laser therapy works. And the Boulder Junction Wellness website ( is one of many good places to read up on cupping/MediCupping.

I don’t have the space here to fully explain the solid science behind them. But I can tell you how surprisingly well they worked for me. This is anecdotal evidence, for sure.

Within hours of Lori’s treatment — which included lymphatic drainage and hands-on bodywork — the pain was gone and my right shoulder was moving easily. By the next morning, I had full range of motion, and I was back to kayaking that afternoon.

Once I experienced this remarkable recovery, I went back and did more research into cold laser therapy, cupping and how these energy-based therapies work, without any of the negative side effects of heavy drugs.

“I’m having great success with my clients,” Lori told me after our session, because I asked. They don’t work for everyone. Nothing does. But, for sure, they made me feel better.

Full disclosure — so did the spinach-feta brats.


“The FDA has cleared more than two dozen cold laser devices for home use.” —

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America’s longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book “All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being” is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit