Chinese Cupping Therapy is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and an ancient practice that involves, as the name suggests, the use of cups applied to specific areas of the body. Depending on the situation, I either use differently sized plastic cups that have the air suctioned out with a small hand-pump or old fashioned glass cups that I burn a small flame into in order to remove the oxygen and create a natural vacuum when quickly laid on the skin, also known as fire cupping...don't worry, the fire never comes into contact with a patient's body!
This technique is useful in the case of acute issues, such as colds and flu, as well as in various soft tissue trauma/injury, tension/stiffness, inflammation and congestion/stagnation scenarios. The suction from the cups assists with removing localised toxins/acids, phlegm and thickened fluids, coagulated and stagnating blood lodged in the tissues and it effectively promotes a beneficial increase in fresh blood flow. In the case of impact injuries, strains, tensions and stiffness in the muscles, in addition to the abovementioned benefits the cups also promote relaxation by gently pulling the soft tissues away from the bones, complementing the beneficial effects of massage when treating these issues.
Cupping can be used as a 'stand alone' therapeutic solution, but it is often part of a Massage Therapy session. The cups may be static for the duration of the session or they may be moved slowly along muscles and pathways, with the lubricating assistance of a small amount of oil, in a 'dredging' fashion.