Cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine in which cups are placed on the skin to create suction. The cups can be made of a variety of materials. And suction can be created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps).
Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes, you may feel a little bit uncomfortable or pain in the first 5 minutes when you do it at your first time, but it is bearable. The cups target acupuncture points as well as painful body parts, and it provide relief through pressure.
The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. For weight loss and cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin, and then the cups are moved up and down the surrounding area.
Like acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians. There are five meridian lines on the back, and these are where the cups are usually placed. Using these points, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific maladies. By targeting the meridian channels, cupping strives to ‘open' these channels - the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs, thus providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi (life force).
Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials. Even hands, wrists, legs, and ankles can be ‘cupped,' thus applying the healing to specific organs that correlate with these points.
This treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control a person's asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
While cupping is considered relatively safe (especially air cupping, which does not include the risk of fire and heat), it can cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless, however, and disappear within a few days of treatment.
In addition, there are several instances where cupping should not be performed. Patients with inflamed skin; cases of high fever or convulsions; and patients who bleed easily, are not suitable candidates for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back. If the cups are being moved, they should not cross bony areas, such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades.
Dharmananda, Subhuti. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cupping.htm
History of Chinese Cupping http://www.chinesecupping.net/history_of_chinese_cupping.html
Joswick, Diane, Cupping: How Gwyneth Paltrow Got Her Spots, Acufinder.com.
Cupping , Acupuncture today, http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/abc/cupping.php