On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

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On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

#1  Postby pelfdaddy » Aug 11, 2016 5:34 pm

So we've seen the Olympic swimmers with the circular bruises due to the Chinese practice of Cupping, as well as the runners who wear colored tape on active parts of their bodies.

And etc.

It takes very little research to discover that these odd practices are bullshit, and it takes very little experience to understand why qualified trainers try these practices out on athletes whether they really do anything or not. But, I am wondering...

...if an athlete needs every red blood cell to compete (this is what blood doping is about, right?), then why use suction cups to crush their capillaries and let the blood pool in circles under the skin for several days while they are competing? It's like drawing perfectly good blood (which you need), squirting it into tiny plastic bags, then walking around with the little bags taped to your skin.

Isn't it?
Last edited by pelfdaddy on Aug 11, 2016 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

#2  Postby tuco » Aug 11, 2016 5:42 pm

Yeah well, if those subjected to the procedure believe it will help, it might or? Not saying cupping is not pseudoscience tho.
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Re: On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

#3  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Aug 11, 2016 6:37 pm

My physiotherapist uses tape and, honestly, I've found it to be really helpful with respect to a couple of injuries. There's absolutely no evidence in the complete absence of injury it improves performance in athletes by increasing blood flow or preventing muscle fatigue or anything like that.

More red blood cells means increased VO2 max and endurance, yeah. The basis of blood doping is increasing the prevalence of red blood cells.

You don't really lose red blood cells to cupping. Your body just makes more as is the case whenever you have a minor bleed, whether it's out of your circulatory system, into you tissues or out of your body entirely. The bruises don't change the contours of your body or anything. There's absolutely no evidence it improves performance but, again, claims of things like increased bloodflow and the fact it doesn't harm you if performed by someone who isn't a complete idiot (even though they practice cupping....) result in people seeking an edge over their competition willing to try it.

It's hard to believe Phelps would need any such nonsense to compete at the level he does based on the fact he's physiologically nearly perfect for his sport. He's competing against other people who likely have natural biochemical advantages too though. That, in addition to the hard work, is what got them to the Olympics. Anything for an edge, I guess.
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Re: On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

#4  Postby pelfdaddy » Aug 11, 2016 9:57 pm

I do not like myself when I sound hyper-critical, but I suppose this is something that just has me baffled. The general public and the sports media swallow these alternative methods all very easily, blithely assuming that they work. Everyone I have spoken to thus far assumes that my skepticism is really just cynicism directed toward the coaches and trainers whose expertise I am foolish to question.

The most skeptical responses to the practice I have seen come from those who believe that some sort of placebo benefit is involved, that a benefit by any other name is still a plus, and that therefore they should just keep on doing "whatever works". But I find I am totally unsatisfied with this approach.

The athletes and their trainers are giving default approval to fraudulent practitioners of flaky nonsense, and I don't like that. The public is being sold a romantic version of the placebo effect that is simply not real. If attention was directed toward things that really do work, everyone would benefit without putting one penny in the pockets of con artists. And if we know what kinds of things the brain does to relieve pain in the anticipation of treatment, a sense of being in good hands, and confidence that one is attempting something that works, then let us be about the business of understanding and harnessing that.

The very idea that deceiving ourselves into feeling better is good, and that ancient superstitions should be resurrected to take advantage of our credulity, is just painful to witness.
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Re: On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

#5  Postby Mazille » Aug 11, 2016 10:11 pm

pelfdaddy wrote:
The public is being sold a romantic version of the placebo effect that is simply not real. If attention was directed toward things that really do work, everyone would benefit without putting one penny in the pockets of con artists.


Funnily enough, apart from hard training and a very controlled diet, they actually ban pretty much everything that really does work as "doping".
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Re: On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

#6  Postby tuco » Aug 12, 2016 5:15 am

pelfdaddy wrote:I do not like myself when I sound hyper-critical, but I suppose this is something that just has me baffled. The general public and the sports media swallow these alternative methods all very easily, blithely assuming that they work. Everyone I have spoken to thus far assumes that my skepticism is really just cynicism directed toward the coaches and trainers whose expertise I am foolish to question.

The most skeptical responses to the practice I have seen come from those who believe that some sort of placebo benefit is involved, that a benefit by any other name is still a plus, and that therefore they should just keep on doing "whatever works". But I find I am totally unsatisfied with this approach.

The athletes and their trainers are giving default approval to fraudulent practitioners of flaky nonsense, and I don't like that. The public is being sold a romantic version of the placebo effect that is simply not real. If attention was directed toward things that really do work, everyone would benefit without putting one penny in the pockets of con artists. And if we know what kinds of things the brain does to relieve pain in the anticipation of treatment, a sense of being in good hands, and confidence that one is attempting something that works, then let us be about the business of understanding and harnessing that.

The very idea that deceiving ourselves into feeling better is good, and that ancient superstitions should be resurrected to take advantage of our credulity, is just painful to witness.


I would say that your satisfaction is pretty much irrelevant. Have you seen footballers cross themselves before match or penalty? Or even how they run after they score goal. It makes no sense, to sprint and expend energy which could be preserved and used later in match but they still sprint to certain place on/off field they deem as appropriate because they are happy or something.

Skeptical approach ... whatever gives best result is winner's approach.


btw first hit on google: Cupping – Olympic Pseudoscience - https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/cu ... doscience/
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Re: On Phelps' Looking Like a Pizza

#7  Postby Coastal » Aug 12, 2016 8:18 am

Professional athletes are notoriously superstitious. Now that this has been on the forefront of my mind for a few days I see an example of it whenever I switch to the Olympics for a few minutes at a time. This cupping nonsense is just another superstition.

I think the mental aspect of performing at your peak plays a very large part in your success or failure on the day and if this helps them mentally then there is a benefit for them in doing it.
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