Cupping is a modality of treatment in which cups of varying sizes are placed on the skin and secured using suction, lifting the skin and underlying muscles. The cups can either be left in a stationary position or moved back and forth along the body by the practitioner if necessary. Duration of retention varies depending on the condition of the illness.
It is commonly used by athletes (perhaps most famously by US Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps) for post-training recovery and other sports-related issues.
Cupping may look intimidating at first, but the sensation is akin to a deep tissue massage—most patients would not describe the feeling of cupping as being painful.
After treatment, circular suction marks will often be left on the skin; these marks will dissipate on their own in about a week or so, depending on your individual body constitution. The skin may also feel tender immediately after the treatment, but this will usually end after a day or two. In North America, this modality is commonly used to treat pain and tightness in the muscles.
Cupping increases circulation of qi and blood into the area, and brings stagnated energies up to the skin’s surface so your immune system can naturally flush it out.
The marks that result from a cupping treatment are unwanted toxins that have been drawn out of the body, such as static blood, lymph drainage, and pathogenic factors.
Depending on the condition, the marks can range in colour from light pink to bright red, and even dark purple.
Conditions that may be treated by cupping include: