Cupping has been used for centuries in China for promoting the circulation of “qi” and blood, reducing pain and helping women recover more completely after childbirth. Historically this technique was called “fire cups,” giving a peak into the process itself. The practitioner would light a small piece of material on fire, quickly inserting it into a glass cup to evacuate the oxygen inside, creating suction. The cup was immediately applied to the affected area and left to “pull stagnant energy and blood to the surface.”  The suction formed between the skin and the cup increases circulation to the affected area providing the desired therapeutic effect.

A more modern version of the technique has been created using a hand pump to evacuate the oxygen from the cup instead of using a flame. The hand pump is attached to the top of the cup via a small spigot. The air is evacuated from the inside of the cup by squeezing the hand-held pump. The benefits of the modern method are two fold… the level of suction can be controlled more easily and the risk of being burned has been eliminated.

When considering receiving this method, you should know that the suction created by cupping may leave ring-shaped bruises that can last up to a week. Your practitioner can reduce the amount of bruising by using a “moving cups” method, where lubricant is spread over the skin, the cups are applied and then the cups are gently are glided back and forth over the affected area. By moving the cups, less bruising is created. A bruise cream such as Arnica or Traumeel can also be applied immediately after treatment to reduce the amount of skin discoloration. Even the most ticklish clients enjoy the treatment and remark that the area feels open and lighter afterward.