Cupping is a therapy used in traditional medicine to remove stagnation and stimulate the flow of vital energy circulating through the body. If the vital energy is disrupted or disturbed, it can create stagnation (blockages) or imbalances in the body.
A therapeutic cupping treatment involves warming and placing cups, usually made of glass, on the skin. By warming the air within the cup, a vacuum is created, and when it is applied to the skin, the tissue is drawn up into the cup. This increases the blood flow, loosens the fascia or connective tissue, and is thought to stimulate healing. It is similar to the way deep tissue massage can be used to break up scar tissue and reduce pain. The cups are often placed on the back, neck, and shoulders or the site of pain. Cupping may cause temporary bruising and soreness, depending upon the degree of suction created by the vacuum and the level of internal stagnation. According to traditional Medicine, this would be a favorable outcome, suggesting the treatment has successfully removed toxins and stagnation. The cups are removed by lifting one edge, which allows air in and breaks the seal and vacuum.