Cupping is an ancient modality that falls into the scope of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is most effectively combined with Acupuncture. The practice has evolved from the use of bamboo and fire, to the vacuum cupping systems that most practitioners use today.
Cupping involves distracting, or vacuuming, the skin up into the cups and either retaining the cups from 5-15 minutes, or gliding the cups along the surface. Cupping can increase circulation, decrease adhesions and promote lymph drainage. In TCM we use Cupping to move the Qi and remove stagnation (anywhere there is pain, there is stagnation). Often Cupping is performed after or during an acupuncture session, but it can also be a stand alone therapy.
Cupping is wonderful for most musculoskeletal complaints. I routinely use cupping for back pain, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, runners knee, frozen shoulder, piriformis syndrome and sciatica, but it is also very effective with respiratory conditions like bronchitis.