Cupping and Gua sha are two methods in Chinese medicine used frequently for myofascial pain/dysfunction, immune stimulation, and dermatology. During the 2016 Summer Olympics, cupping received particular attention when athletes were seen with dark purple, circular bruises - the result of cupping. Like acupuncture, cupping and guasha are methods that can be explained in Western medical terms.
Gua sha is a method using a smooth edged tool commonly made of either bone or jade to move through tissue, breaking up adhesions which occur in overly worked muscles.
Cupping’s suction can provide “slack” to muscles. Often, tight muscles will reset if taken out of their strained position.
Both cupping and gua sha cause white blood cells to “degranulate”, releasing the cell’s enzymes into the tissue to fight foreign invaders. This is the mechanism for how cupping and guasha can be used to fight colds.
Although they do leave marks that may last a week or two, guasha and cupping are very relaxing and pain free.