In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we say that cupping helps remove cold in the channels, moves stasis, and eliminates wind-cold condition.
In modern terms, cupping is used to promote blood circulation, reduce swelling and pain, help with gastro-intestinal disorders, and treat lung diseases. In does this my lifting/pulling muscle tissue away from the skeletal structure. The most common application for cupping in the United States is along very tight muscles, such as those in the upper back and shoulders. Prolonged tension can lead to impeded blood circulation, restricted lymphatic flow, and pinched nerves leading down to the hands. Cupping is a great way to lift the tissue and release tension in this area, allowing proper blood and lymphatic circulation and release of compacted nerves.
In the most recent summer olympics you can see several pictures of our nation's top athletes including swimmers and gymnasts with the tell-tale bruises resulting from cupping. On some of the TV footage, you can even see an acupuncturist preforming cupping on-site in-between various events. This coverage shows that the amazing benefits of cupping therapy are finally being recognized by a wider audience and used to help athletic performance. Cups used in most high-quality clinics tend to be glass. A vacuum to the cup is applied by heating the air inside the cup with a flame and quickly applying the cup to the skin surface. As the air cools, a powerful vacuum forms. Alternatives to this more traditional approach in cupping therapy involve using cheaper plastic cups containing a one-way valve. An external pump is applied to the cup while it's affixed to the skin resulting in a vacuum in the cup. This alternative is a convenient way to apply cupping therapy when you are traveling and lack all the required tools for the more traditional method. Our mobile acupuncture service uses the modern pump system cups for convenience while our clinic uses the traditional glass cups.