In modern times, cupping therapy mostly uses a glass jar attached to the surface of the skin to cause local congestion through negative pressure created from a vacuum. This vacumm can be created by a heat source or a manual pump. There are several ways to cup. Flash cupping is a quick contact to the skin and release using one or two cups at a time in a specific area. This encourages blood flow to the area and can confuse the muscle to assist it in relaxing. Stationary cupping uses specific acu points where cups are left for several minutes pulling old blood and stagnation out of an area. Sliding cupping feels wonderful and helps to lengthen the muscle tissue while spreading out the fasica.
Many people remember Gwenneth Paltro's cup marks a few years back. Cupping can cause a bruise or blood stasis mark. This happens when muscles have been chronically tight or if there has been a trauma to an area. When a muscle is tight or damaged blood can not efficiently move in and out of the area due to the contricted muscles. The cup pulls this old blood up leaving the cup mark or bruise and allows space for fresh oxygen and blood to take its place and correct the problem. Over time bruising will become less and less dark until there is no longer a mark on the skin. If there is not an issue in the area cupped no mark will appear when the cup is released. Although the stasis mark can look painful people do not report feeling the tenderness of a typical bruise. Redness can also appear from cupping usually due to heat or inflammation trapped in the body. As you can see in the picture to the right a stasis mark has formed on this patient's shoulder. There is also some redness in the form of lines from sliding cupping. Most patients at Whole Health Acupuncture request cupping after receiving it for the first time. Cupping is a wonderful accessory technique to aid the benefits of acupuncture or massage therapy.