Cupping relieves muscle pain (especially back pain from stiffness or injury) and clears chest congestion, which occurs with common colds and influenza.

It is a technique in which a glass cup or bamboo jar is suctioned onto the body and allowed to sit for about 10 minutes. Cupping stimulates the flow of blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area, relieves swelling, and greatly enhances an acupuncture or electroacupuncture treatment.

Cupping and acupuncture usually go hand in hand, but can be used alone. The plastic (sometimes glass) cups are applied to the body, and a vacuum is created inside each cup with the aid of a special suction pump. This suction stimulates the flow of blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area.

In theory, it is the opposite of a massage, with the skin and muscles being sucked up instead of pushed down. This stimulation may leave red, bruise-like marks on the skin that lasts a few days, though there will be no pain associated with them.

Each cupping session lasts approximately 5 to 10 minutes and can be repeated once the marks have cleared until the condition is resolved.