Most people are familiar with cupping because they have seen circular marks on the bodies of athletes who are receiving cupping as therapy to help their bodies perform (and heal from) peak athletic performance. In Chinese Medical practice we typically use cupping to “clear stagnation”. And most often, this stagnation manifests as pain.
When qi and blood does not flow smoothly through the body, the result is pain. Cupping can help to break up and bring that stagnation to the surface, where it can more easily leave the body for good. The marks, or bruising, is a great sign of therapeutic release.
I also use cupping for lung issues. I have a patient with asthma, difficulty breathing, and a pattern that we call “Phlegm in the Lungs”. Cupping is a great assistant to acupuncture and herbs because it can pull that stagnation (this time in the form of stubborn phlegm), up from the depths of the inner body toward the surface where it can more easily be removed. After a few treatments I have had patients tell me that they can more easily breathe and that they feel less congestion in their chest/lungs; one patient was even able to begin running again, which they had to stop due to the pain it caused on their lungs.
Whatever reason you need cupping for, it is important to keep the area of your body that was cupped covered with clothing (for a few days post-treatment). Cupping opens up the body to allow stagnation to leave, but we don’t want elements such as cold to come in, as that can create new problems.
PC: Thank you to nicolemantilla