Cupping is an ancient technique used by many cultures from Native Americans and the Middle East to ancient Egyptians and of course, Chinese medicine. The basic idea is that the vacuum created by the suction cup assists in the circulation of blood, bringing oxygen to the muscle tissues where the cups are applied. This helps to detoxify the area and support the movement of blood, fluids, and Qi in the body. It is indicated for symptoms that are thought of as cold and damp in the Chinese medical tradition. Some cold and damp symptoms that cupping treats very well are muscle tension, swelling, and deep or chronic pain.
What’s so unique about cupping is that it is like an inverse massage. Instead of putting pressure on the skin, it is pulling the skin and tissues up – a difficult effect to do with just hands. The application of cups leaves a superficial bruise that may last from 3 to 7 days depending on the patient’s circulation. These are indicators that blood was brought to the surface. It does not indicate tissue damage and it should not be a concern.