Fire cupping is a technique used by acupuncturists, most commonly to break up muscle tightness. I also use it for early onset signs and symptoms of cold and flu – such as stiff neck, shortness of breath, headaches etc. There are other reported therapeutic uses, and for the research buffs out there here is a link to a systematic review on the efficacy of cupping.

The cup is heated up momentarily with fire, which sucks out the oxygen and creates a vacuum in the cup. The cups are placed on a stiff or painful area and either left in place or moved along the affected area(s). The movement and warmth creates a deep massage effect and is a great way to release stubborn knots and tension.

Healthy tissues doesn’t bruise from cupping, but if there are knots or tightness in the muscles, the area will turn red or purple underneath the cups (think hickey or love bite). The blemishes will disappear within 2-4 days and are not painful,but can look quite pronounced.
Most of my clients love having cupping therapy as part of their treatment, and proudly show off their bruises. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston have even been spotted on the red carpet sporting the tell-tale marks.
Please read my article on gua sha for further information as both techniques work on the same principle in theory.