Acupuncture and cupping have many similarities. Both emerged from the experienced-based practices of Chinese medical doctors thousands of years ago and each has been the subject of increasing research. As with acupuncture, cupping is also used to stimulate circulation in the body.
While acupuncture does work mechanically, it mainly works on the blood, nerve, and electrical circulation. Cupping is more mechanical by stretching and expanding the muscles. Cupping also loosens scars and connective tissue and increases circulation to certain areas of the body. Your doctor places the cups along specific areas, often on important junctions and connections in the muscular skeletal system. You may feel a bit of tension on your skin with the suction, but as each cup is placed that feeling will go away. There should be no pain, and many people find cupping to be deeply restorative and relaxing. Some people describe it like “being able to scratch an itch you couldn’t reach.
“The cups stay in place for five to 20 minutes and are removed by gently releasing the suction on the skin. You may feel lighter and calmer after cupping. Your muscles in the area may feel looser and less tense, too.
And what about those red marks? Unlike bruises that signify damage to capillaries, cupping marks indicate that blood flow has increased to the area – a good sign. They will fade anywhere from a couple hours to a few days.
There are no reported side effects from cupping, but there are a few people who might want to proceed with caution. If you have hemophilia or take anticoagulant medications, cupping may not be for you. Further, cupping should not be performed on broken, inflamed, burned, or infected skin.