Cupping refers to an ancient Chinese practice in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced) by using flame to evacuate out the air), so that the skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held in the cup. In some cases, the cup may be moved while the suction of skin is active, causing a regional pulling of the skin and muscle (the technique is called sliding cupping).
Cupping increases blood flow to local areas, improves Qi flow, and relieves adhesions in the muscle tissue and fascia. A certain amount of bruising is expected both from fixed position cupping (especially at the site of the cup rim) and with movement of the cups. This bruising is called petechiae and is similar to a “hickey” in that it usually causes no pain and resolves in about one week.