Cupping is almost like a deep tissue massage with suction and decompression. Chinese medical practitioners believe cupping helps keep the body in balance, increases overall blood flow and reduces pain. Some athletes use this type of therapy to decrease muscle recovery time. It is often used in conjunction with acupuncture or acupressure.

Cupping uses a cup to pull an area of skin into a suction that decompresses muscles and connective tissue. This promotes blood flow to the compromised area, enhances circulation and helps to increase the body’s own healing processes — almost like a backward deep tissue massage. There are several different types of cups ranging from glass to silicone and bamboo, and there are different ways to use them. Sometimes practitioners will only use one or two cups. Other times, they’ll cover your entire back with cups. Two popular types of cupping: stationary and sliding. Stationary cupping uses suction only, keeping the cups in place for a set time, usually 5 to 10 minutes. Sliding cupping is more like a deep tissue massage where the provider moves the cups over the area of pain or concern.

Some people love the sensation. Others hate it. In most cases, you will notice some bruising around the treated area. Bruises may be pink, red or sometimes purple or dark brown. Bruising typically goes away within two weeks. You may also notice changes on the surface of the skin. It’s important to take care of yourself after a treatment. Stay warm, cover up, drink plenty of water and eat wholesome foods. You should also avoid swimming or showering within three hours of a cupping session

Side effects are typically mild and include bruising and irritation of the treated areas. In rare cases, you may feel lightheaded or nauseous shortly after your session.