Cupping is a technique used in conjunction with acupuncture or dry needling. Cupping pulls blood to a region to stimulate healing. It is effective at stretching tight fascia and muscles. Cupping helps the tissue develop new blood flow and causes anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body. Cupping is generally painless and many say is more effective than massage for muscle problems.
How does it work?
When the body is undergoing a lot of stress-whether it’s the rigorous training routine of an Olympic athlete, or the grueling hours of a jam-packed work week-muscles can get “tight.” Small trigger points of bound up muscle (also called “knots”, although they technically are not) cause pain and sometimes inflammation as circulation becomes poorer and tension builds in the area. By pulling the muscle and the fascia (the thin sheathe which surrounds organs and muscle) one can “break up” the tense muscle. The improved circulation from cupping is also thought to help increase recovery time for strained muscles and help them heal if they have been overused. The thought here is that the more oxygen rich fresh blood you can get circulating through an area, the quicker it will heal/function optimally.
The marks left by cupping are not bruises, per say. Bruises are caused by blunt trauma to the skin that cause capillaries and blood vessels to burst beneath the surface. Cupping does not involve any force that causes a bruise, as it is typically defined.
Those who practice cupping classify marks. The darker they are, the more “stagnant” your blood was and the poorer condition that area is in. The darkness shows that the disease or underlying problem condition has been pulled to the surface of the skin and new blood can get underneath and provide fresh circulation