Cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that’s based on the belief that certain health problems can be caused by stagnant blood and a poor energy flow through your body.
To fix or prevent those health issues, cupping practitioners apply cups—typically glass or silicone—to your skin to create a pressure that sucks your skin inward, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine.
Cupping practitioners usually place cups on a person's back—though face cupping is becoming *a thing*
The pressure that the cups create draws blood to the affected area, increasing your blood flow overall, says Chiti Parikh, M.D., integrative medicine practitioner at the Weill Cornell Medicine Integrative Health and Wellbeing Center in New York City. “That increased blood flow can relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation," says Parikh.
Generally, cupping is used to treat chronic pain—back pain and headaches, in particular, says Parikh. “It’s all about getting rid of musculoskeletal pain, which is often a physical manifestation of chronic stress,” he adds.
You'll want to steer clear of cupping if you’re on blood thinners, have trouble with bleeding or clotting, or you have an open wound, cautions Parikh. The same goes for those with very sensitive or thin skin.
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