Cupping is a treatment modality of traditional Chinese medicine with a documented history that spans millenia.
It is a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin. Suction is created by individually heating the air mass within the containers, thereby creating the conditions for a vacuum, then quickly placing them on the patient. The cups, themselves, are never allowed to reach a temperature that might be unpleasant.
Once in place and sufficient suction has occurred, they are gently glided across the skin. The suction effect causes skin and superficial muscle layers to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle upward pressure to pull them in the reverse direction.
Most patients undergoing the procedure, find it to be a very pleasant and relieving experience.
Often combined with the other modalities of TCM, it can be a very effective means of relieving the symptoms of such conditions as:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Muscle stiffness
- Menstrual difficulties
Along with TCM heat therapy and tuina, cupping is among the best of deep-tissue therapies available. It is believed to affect tissues several inches in depth from the external skin. Lymphatic circulation can be facilitated, blockages of Qi can be cleared, and blood vessels can be refreshed due to the enhancement of blood flow that occurs as a result of the procedure.