Cupping began in China centuries ago to warm, promote circulation of chi and blood and to help reduce pain. The original technique was with “fire cups” where the practitioner would light material on fire and quickly insert into the cup to both expel the oxygen and create suction while immediately applying to the skin. Today, the practitioner uses a hand pump to evacuate oxygen rather than a flame. In this way, the acupuncturist can better control the amount of pressure being applied to the affected area.
This therapy leaves colorful circular type bruises on the skin which can last from a few days to a week. An alternate method to reduce this look is to use moving cups. Here the practitioner can apply massage oil first and then using the vacuum pump, slide or move the cups over the area. Skin discoloration goes away faster with moving cups. Some patients say this is a very relaxing, massage-like treatment.
Cupping can be used alone or in combination with an acupuncture treatment.