The term fire cupping, often abbreviated as cupping, refers to a traditional oriental medical technique used to increase the flow of qi and blood to dispel stagnation, cleanse toxins from the muscle tissue, and improve circulation through an area. It is also part of the traditional protocol to remove a virus from the body.
In this technique, the air inside a glass globe, called a fire cup, is quickly heated. The cup is then placed on the skin surface to cause a localized congestion through the negative pressure created between the cup and the skin. This induced congestion causes a reflexive vascular flushing of the area, thus increasing the circulation and allowing the imbalance to be normalized using manual therapy techniques. In some circumstances, the cup is slid on the skin while the suction remains active, causing a regional pulling of the skin and muscle. This is called slide cupping. Other cupping techniques are employed when indicated.
Fire cupping is a very efficient, effective, and painless form of treatment which is often used to release muscle spasms or generalized myofascial tightness over a large area to avoid excessive needling or dilution of a treatment protocol.