Cupping is a modality where a jar (cup) is attatched to the skin surface to cause local congestion through the negative pressure created by introducing heat in the form of an ignited material. It has the function of warming and promoting the free flow of energy and blood in the meridians helping to increase circulation and in turn, decrease pain and swelling. It is great for treating pain such as back, shoulders, leg, acute sprains, stomach aches, and lung diseases such as asthma or cough. The cups are either left in place for around ten minutes, known as fixed cupping, or slid up and down an area of the body, especially the back, this is called moving cupping. The skin becomes congested with red or violet bruises that diminish after 5-7 days.
Be sure to let your acupuncturist know if you plan to attend an event where your back or area of the body that is to be cupped is exposed prior to the treatment. The marks are commonly discribed as looking like circular hickeys. You can think of cupping as reverse massage, instead to pressing the skin to stimulate lymphatic drainage and detoxification, the cups create a suction. It is a very relaxing modality and causes no uncomfortable sensations for the patient.