Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that utilizes small glass or plastic cups as suction devices that are placed on the skin. With glass cups, the suction is obtained by using a fire-lit cotton ball to draw out the oxygen. This process is done by quickly inserting and removing the fire-lit cotton ball into the cup and then placing the cup immediately onto the desired area (fire is not left in the cup while on the skin). When using plastic cups the suction is created by a hand held pump that removes the excess air out to create a suction between the cup and skin. Once the cups are suctioned onto the skin, they can be kept in place or gently moved across the skin. While cupping is utilized to increase health, it is quite relaxing and pleasant. This ancient technique is used often as it is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. The skin is gently pulled up into the cups to stimulate the lymphatic system. The cupping technique brings fresh blood and oxygen to the affected site and carries away stagnant or damaged blood to speed up the healing process.
Cupping is a modality that draws tissue up into a cup with a suction technique. Doing this helps to break up and draw out stagnant blood and eat cells within the muscle(s), tissue and fascia so they body can adequately clear them. When the stagnant blood is cleared, then healing begins. Cupping is useful in treating pain and tightness as well as some other conditions such as common colds and fevers.
In Chinese Medicine, pain is often the result of stagnation or poor circulation that occurs from an injury or environmental factors such as being out in the cold snow often. Cupping is a suction technique used to lift and stretch the fascia. When there is stagnation in an area due to injury, blood will be pooled in the fascias. Dispersing this with cupping may cause red or purple coloring to come to the surface. From an acupuncturist’s point of view, this is a good thing as it is promoting the circulation of blood flow to heal that injury. Cupping is used in Chinese Medicine for much more than injuries, such as common colds or fevers. Red or purple marks do not appear on everyone, and will go away within a few days.