Cupping is a technique in which a glass cup or bamboo jar is suctioned onto the body and allowed to sit for about 10 minutes. Cupping stimulates the flow of blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area, relieves swelling, and greatly enhances an acupuncture or electroacupuncture treatment. Its uses include relieving muscle pain (especially back pain from stiffness or injury), and clearing congestion in the chest, which can occur with common colds and influenza.
Cupping is usually incorporated into an acupuncture of bodywork treatment, but can be used alone. The plastic (sometimes glass) cups are applied to the body, and a vacuum is created inside each cup with the aid of a special suction pump. This suction stimulates the flow of blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area. Cupping can be felt like the opposite of a massage because skin and muscles are being sucked up instead of being pushed down. This stimulation, however, may leave red, bruise-like marks on the skin that lasts a few days.
Each cupping session lasts approximately 5 to 10 minutes, and can be repeated once the marks have cleared, until the condition is resolved.
There are two types of cupping:
Stationary cupping: cups are left in one place during the treatment and removed when the needles are removed.
Moving cupping: 100% organic massage oil is first applied to the skin. This lubricates the surface so that the cups can be moved up and down the back and shoulders, breaking up knots in the muscles and fascia.