If you haven’t tried cupping I highly recommend it especially for muscle and joint related aches. It can simply feel miraculous in how well it works to ease your pain. Cupping is another Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that is used to promote qi and blood circulation. The process involves uses a cup (made of glass, silicon, plastic or bamboo) and creating a suction with the surface on the skin. This is done in a number of ways depending on the style of the tool. For example with the glass cups we use fire to remove the oxygen from the inside of the cup and quickly place the cup onto the skin. Of course this can appear to be more like a circus act and can be a little scary but as practitioners we are careful to always be checking the temperature of the cup to reduce the risk of injuring the skin. Most of the time the rim of the cup actually feels surprisingly cold because it does not come in contact with the flame. Another technique is with the use of a silicon cup in which the suction is created by reducing the negative space inside the cup so that when it rebounds back it sucks the skin in along with it. It is through this suction that flow is promoted. Essentially, the suction pulls the blood out of its regular circulation creating a minor injury that encourages overall healing to the area.
Cupping can involve leaving the cups in one spot (on specific acupuncture points, on areas of discomfort on simply anywhere along a meridian). The cups can be retained for generally 5-15 minutes leaving perfect circular discoloured skin that can be on a spectrum from red to purple that generally last 3-10 days.
Another technique is moving cupping where the skin is lubricated and the cups are moved along the surface of the skin kind of like a massage. This technique can also leave marks as above but they tend to be less specific when the cups are not sitting still. Generally the cups are moved along the meridian or in the areas of pain and stagnation.
A final technique is called fire cupping in which the cup is repeatedly suctioned and removed from the skin over a small or large area. Again there will likely be some marks associated but unless the cups are adhered to the same spot for a continuous period.
Each technique is used to promote the energetic flow in the body yet each has its own benefit that will be decided on a case to case basis.