Cupping is a simple method of pulling stuck or stagnant Qi and congealed blood and fluids out of the injured area. Glass cups are placed on the skin and then applied using suction. Cups are kept on from three to fifteen minutes, according to the judgment of the therapist. Cupping releases tight, painful muscles and increases blood circulation.
Please see this informative video featured on CBS News on Fire Cupping:
CBS News Video: 'Cupping' Takes The Pain Away
After any injury, whether it was an acute or chronic injury the areas that you hurt are areas that now have a blockage of blood and body fluids. Injured joints become swollen and painful. Backs become stiff, painful and difficult to move. This blockage of blood and body fluids obstructs the area and prevents normal circulation of QI and blood.
Eventually, over time the area of trauma begins to cause pain and limited range of motion. Sometimes, even after surgery, the injured area continues to hurt, and never feels completely the same. That’s why you can utilize the benefits of fire cupping to your therapy to speed up the rate at which you heal.
One purpose of cupping is to relieve the pain of tight and sore muscles. This is done by pulling the muscle fibers into the cup. This loosens the muscles and relieves pain. It also pulls the stuck blood within the muscle onto the surface of the skin causing an increase of blood and fresh nutrients to the area. Cupping is able to pull the congealed blood out of the muscle and onto the surface of the skin to be flushed out of the area.
As a result, cupping will often produce a red or purple circle upon the skin that may take a few days to heal. These circles are only dark colored if the area that is cupped has “stuck” body fluids and blood. You should expect some circular discoloration or bruising if you are cupped. Keep in mind, this is only occurring because stuck fluids and blood congeal and act like glue, keeping joints stiff and swollen and gluing muscle fibers. These circular discolorations and bruising occur in the process of drawing these stuck fluids and blood out of injured areas – they are part of the healing process.
As you improve with each treatment, the circular discolorations will become less and less red. Everyone heals at their own pace, and some of the healing will also depend on how physically active you are, how well you treat your body (diet, posture, stress levels), and how often you come to therapy. Bottom line, this is your healing process, and your treatment, so you have to honor your body and accept however long it takes to get better.
If you are very concerned with bruising or discoloration, cupping may not be the right therapy for you. Since cupping marks take a few days to heal, please consider if you are going to the beach or to an event where you will be revealing the cupped area.
If you are pregnant, have a circulation disorder, hemophilia, lupus, or diabetes, cupping may not be appropriate for you. Although cupping does release tight muscles and increase blood circulation and move congealed body fluids, bruising and bleeding may sometimes occur.