Cupping is the therapy of placing glass cups along the body with a suction method generally used for muscle pain relief. Cupping stimulates the movement of blood and lymph within the superficial muscle layers of the body which can create cupping marks, but also assists with pain.
Cupping therapy uses suction or negative pressure on targeted body areas, most often for pain relief. Cupping encourages blood flow, and affects the nervous system generating a healing effect on the body.
Cupping is primarily done for pain at the muscle areas of the back, neck, and shoulders. Cups are either left stationary on the body or moved along the muscle areas, depending on your comfort level.
Cupping is a deep tissue therapy that can affect body tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin level. Cupping circulates the blood and lymph to release toxins in the body, refreshing the veins and blood vessels. In Chinese Medicine pain is seen as stagnation, or lack of movement in the area; cupping brings circulation and fresh blood and lymph to the surface, displacing 'stuck', stagnant fluids, creating movement, and decreasing pain. Depending on the level of stagnation patients can presents with 'cupping marks', which is discoloration at the cupping site, see photo above. Cupping marks can be mild to very dark; this is normal, marks will fade away after a few days.
Cupping is not just for musculature issues, it is great for relieving stress and anxiety and for a general relaxing experience. It can also be used for lung issues, such as asthma or the common cold and assists with breathing issues and congestion. Folk medicines of many different countries continue to use some form of cupping.
To reiterate: cupping may leave skin discoloration at the cupping sites which appear similar to bruising. This is normal, so do not be alarmed. Marks will fade away within a few days to a week, depending on the degree of discoloration.