Cupping helps move stagnant Qi and blood by creating vacuums and reinvigorating the body. This is done by applying cups made of glass, plastic, or rubber to the skin’s surface. This will leave marks on your skin that may look like bruises, but they’re not painful and will slowly disappear, in fact the color of the marks will be an indicator of potential different health conditions. The main purpose of it is to bring blood flow to stagnant or injured areas and also drain the old blood.
The darker the mark, the more stagnant your circulation has been in that area. From a western standpoint, cupping works by basically being a backwards deep-tissue massage that pulls an area of skin into a suction to decompress the muscles and connective tissue.
There are three main types of cupping: wet, fire, and dry. Wet cupping involves creating small incisions on the skin before applying the cup, which will pull a small amount of blood out during the cupping session, this modality is particularly effective for pain treatment when there has been trauma to the area. Fire cupping uses a little bit of fire—usually by setting a cotton ball on fire—and puts it over the cup to create a vacuum from the pressure differential. Dry cupping involves using plastic or rubber suction cups to apply negative pressure to the body.