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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Writing her conclusion
Power up your summer

To heal from injuries, student athletes experiment with alternative medicine

Eliza Dearing

One by one, plastic cups were placed and pumped, suctioning the skin of her upper back. As her blood flow — and the pain — increased, tennis player Paola Almeda lay on an examination table in the fitness center, hoping the cupping therapy would treat her injury.

While treatments can be painful, Paola is just one in a growing number of U-High student athletes exploring alternative medicine techniques — in and outside of U-High — to treat nagging injuries.

In the fall, a recurring injury flared up in Paola’s shoulder, and she was still in pain once the season ended. Despite countless heat packs and visits to athletic trainer Hannah McCarrell, she was not feeling better. 

One day, Ms. McCarrell suggested cupping therapy, an alternative medicine technique not thoroughly researched by scientists in which cups are placed on the skin to create a suction, believed to promote blood flow and relieve muscle tension. So Paola rested on her front while Hannah performed the treatment. 

For Paola, the results were satisfactory.

“It honestly paid off,” Paola said, “and while it didn’t completely heal the injury, it was definitely helpful in relaxing the muscles and reducing the tension.”

Having joined U-High this school year, Ms. McCarrell said her application of cupping therapy is only for serious injuries and is used alongside exercise.

“It’s not a first-time treatment, and it’s not for everyone,” Ms. McCarrell said. “My biggest philosophy is making sure that their bodies learn how to correct themselves. In my practice, I use cupping as a down-the-road option, and I don’t rely on just cupping to promote healing.”

Cupping therapy demands significant time and energy, but Ms. McCarrell believes in its benefits and is determined to provide it.

“I don’t know a ton of high school athletic trainers that do it,” Ms. McCarrell said, “The main reason they don’t is just because they don’t want to take the time; it’s a hands-on treatment. But I don’t mind taking the time out of my day to do it. As long as it helps.”

Some students experiment with alternative medicine techniques outside school. Struggling with a serious knee injury, cross country and track runner Mary Bridget Molony received numerous acupuncture treatments at East Point Associates, a Hyde Park medical clinic. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine also not fully understood by scientific research..

After detecting imbalances and massaging, the doctors inserted needles at points across her body. In the end, her results were similar to Paola’s.

“Some of the needles were more painful than others,” Mary Bridget said, “but I could feel it actually loosening up the muscles and tendons. I wouldn’t say it provided instant relief of my injury. I’m still trying to deal with it. It’s a more long-term thing, but it definitely made a difference.”

While Mary Bridget is currently unable to race for the track team due to the injury, she has been meeting with Ms. McCarrell — and it helps.

“We’re mostly completing exercises to strengthen muscles around the area that is injured,” Mary Bridget said, “which is also helpful and is the foundation for any injury recovery.”

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About the Contributors
Taariq Ahmed
Taariq Ahmed, Digital Editor
Taariq Ahmed is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the digital editor. He joined the Midway as a sophomore after moving from St. Louis, where he completed Introduction to Journalism at his previous school in ninth grade. Taariq is a part of his school's Young Men of Color group and Being Racially Aware and Valuing Ethnicity conference board. Outside of school, Taariq enjoys reading the news, listening to music, playing soccer and spending time with family and friends.
Eliza Dearing
Eliza Dearing, Artist
Eliza Dearing is a member of the Class of 2024 and is an artist for the U-High Midway. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, original editorial cartoon, drawing or comic: superior 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Second place, art/illustration: hand-drawn, “Affirmative Apprehension”

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