What is cupping?
Cupping, simply put, is akin to receiving a few of the deepest massages you’ve ever had, but done more gracefully, and in 5-7 minutes during a single treatment. Cupping is a tremendously helpful technique for pain cases as well as many other conditions. When combined with acupuncture and massage, the use of cupping will often cut down the number of treatments required for alleviation of pain by 30-70% in my experience.
The general idea is that stagnation of circulation in the muscles and body tissues will lead to pain and other illnesses. Cupping improves the circulation in these areas and pain is alleviated and underlying health issues are often helped. Cupping helps such issues as generalized pain, injuries of the back/shoulders/neck, etc., herniated discs, disc degeneration, arthritis, and other conditions such as asthma, colds and flus, insomnia, etc.
What does it involve?
Cupping involves the application of glass or plastic cups which adhere to the body through the use of a pump or by heat (see illustration). The most common method is by heat, which is done by waving a burning cotton ball that had been soaked in alcohol through the cup quickly to create a vacuum. You do not feel the heat, but you will feel the cup pull up on the skin. The cups are used over certain acupuncture points and/or over areas of pain.
Once the cups are attached, they are generally left on for 5-15 minutes and are removed by simply pressing down on the skin and letting the air out. They do leave a mark on the body which lasts for about 4-10 days depending on the condition. The mark is very useful as a diagnostic tool – the darker the mark, the more stagnation there is in the muscles. As the marks lighten through progressive treatments, it is a sign that the underlying conditions are improving.