Traditionally, vacuum suction was created by burning out the oxygen in a glass or bamboo cup before pressing it against the skin, but in modern times, cupping is done with a vacuum pump to create suction.

Recently, cupping was made popular by Olympic athletes who competed with dark suction marks on their skin, including Michael Phelps, who swore by the treatment. Multiple studies have shown that cupping combined with acupuncture is substantially more effective in treating pain than conventional drugs, heat therapy, or no treatment at all.

In Chinese medicine, cupping is most commonly used for stagnation-related ailments, including tension and stress relief, neck and back pains, activating the immune system, detoxifying the body, and promoting a heightened sense of well-being.