Cupping is a lesser-known treatment of Oriental medicine, one that can provide an especially pleasant experience and welcome relief to areas of persistent tension, tenderness and stress.
Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass or plastic cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are either placed on the skin or gently moved across it. The slight vaccuum works to lift and separate the tissues beneath the skin, freeing adhesions and promoting blood flow to the area.
There are several ways that a practitioner can create the suction in the cups. In my practice I use a simple, silent, vaccum device that can be easily adjusted to your comfort levels. Other practitioners may use alcohol soaked cotton balls that are lit on fire to draw air out of the cups!
Cupping is much like the inverse of massage - rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. For most people, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes.
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.