Cupping technique is used in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate acupuncture points or to help blood and qi to flow in to areas of the body. Cupping is often practised alongside acupuncture but can also be used as a standalone treatment.
In cupping, the practitioner places a cup on the area to be treated and creates a vacuum inside the cup. The practitioner will often use several cups in one treatment.
The cups may be left in place for anything up to 20 minutes or for larger areas requiring treatment a technique called 'sliding cups' is used whereby massage oil is spread over the skin, the cups are then placed onto the body and slid along the muscles being treated, helping the blood and 'qi' to flow more easily in areas of stagnation.
Cupping is not painful but may at times be uncomfortable. It can leave reddish patches on the skin, like circular bruises and although these marks resemble bruises, the muscles have not been traumatised in any way. The redness on the skin indicates that there has been movement in the circulation of blood under and around the cups. Not all cupping will result in redness as this depends on the complaint being treated.
Cupping is a specialist technique and is contraindicated in certain cases