Cupping is believed to stimulate flow of blood, lymph and Qi to the affected area. Its uses include relieving pain in the muscles, especially back pain from stiffness or injury, and clearing congestion in the chest, which can occur with colds and flu. The therapist takes a number of glass cups, which look like small fish bowls. Each cup is heated with a naked flame. The cup is then quickly applied to the skin. This creates a vacuum. The suction anchors the cup to the body and the area of skin covered is drawn up a few millimetres into the cup. The cups are then left on the body whilst the area beneath is treated and the energy, or qi, is moved.
I must say, i was skeptical. I know a few friends who have had it done and i've seen the bruises after; They don't look pleasant. But they are different from normal bruises resulting from blunt trauma in that they don't hurt. Instead, the blood and toxins are drawn to the surface, so the pain is minimal or nonexistent. The result below looks far worse than it actually is, and the picture was taken only about 20 minutes after.
I will say this. Since moving to Beijing, my back and neck have been awkward, probably from sleeping on a new mattress. These last few days, my back has felt comfortable and i'm sleeping better as a result. And now, 1 week later, the bruises are basically gone.
Also, after two weeks of Sky and Rico crushing me at lunch time ping pong at work, i was unstoppable the following week!
Fact: cupping makes you amazing at ping pong.