In Cupping Therapy, a cotton ball is soaked in alcohol and lit on fire, the fire is placed inside the glass cups and removed, and the cup is placed quickly on the skin. The fire acts to remove the air from inside the cup, causing suction: the cup sticks to the skin, and pulls a little on the skin. This suction acts to draw out what is called stagnant, or stuck, energy from inside the body and bring it to the surface where it can be released. It is used in areas such as the back, shoulders, and forearms when the muscles are very tight or there is aching pain. Patients find that it relaxes those areas. Cupping often leaves a circular bruise-like mark where the cup was. Depending on the person, these marks can last from a few days to a couple weeks.
Cupping Massage is an exciting modern adaptation to the ancient art of cupping. Instead of stationary cupping, the glass cups are moved along the muscles and meridians of the body. A Chinese herbal ointment is first applied to the skin to permit easier movement of the cups.