The practice of cupping has been used for thousands of years by every culture that, may in fact, predate the practice of acupuncture. This art could be seen as a reverse massage where, instead of pressing or squeezing a muscle, it pulls the blood and muscles up. From a Chinese medical viewpoint the blood is being refreshed and regulated to improve circulation and mobility. Cups are usually, but not always, placed on the back. The back contains "transport" points along the paraspinal muscles that spread Qi to nourish our internal organs. When these places along the spine become knotted, tight, or misaligned, localized or distal pain may be present. Back pain and headaches are two examples of how pain can manifest through the blockage of Qi and blood. Secondarily, the internal organ at that location, or along its trajectory, may not be fully receiving its Qi causing other, seemingly unexplainable issues. Because the blood is moved and regulated, cups can be used to treat high or low blood pressure.
What to expect
As cupping draws blood to the surface of the skin, bruises are often seen for 1-3 days after the treatment. It is not uncommon for places of long-held blood stagnation to bruise for 2 weeks or more. This is completely normal and the length of time it takes for the bruises to disappear is indicative of how well a person's blood is circulating.