Cupping Bruise? Cupping Mark?

This is a cup treatment used in traditional Chinese medicine, in which an extracted cup promotes the flow of blood and lymph fluid, leaving a bruise. For those unfamiliar with cup therapy, some may believe that a cup marker is a bruise. However, cup stains are not called "bruises" because of the way they are created. [Sources: 3, 7, 9]

Many people are curious about the traces that cupping leaves behind and interpret them as bruises. Cupping as a treatment not only leaves traces, but the traces can also point to other things. Bruising is the result of a blunt trauma to an area of the body causing damage to blood vessels and skin. Cupping on the other hand is a healing stimulus to the body and can be different in several ways. [Sources: 11, 13]

Cups are an ancient healing therapy used to relieve pain. In cup therapy, a circular cup is attached to the skin by suction. A cup is applied to the patient's skin in a number of positions using a suction device. [Sources: 1, 6, 14]

The basic idea of cupping therapy is to create a vacuum in the cup to pull the skin to bring blood to the surface of a specific part of the body that needs to be healed. Advocates of the therapy say that the suction increases blood flow to the area, which reduces muscle tension and inflammation and promotes healing. The suction is created by using a hand pump to heat the cups to a vacuum. [Sources: 1, 6]

Cups use a plastic or glass cup and a pump to create a vacuum around the output area in the body. Buoyancy is achieved with a hand pump, which manipulates the air pressure through a rubber-coated valve at the top of the cup. Air Cupping is an alternative to fire-cutting, which uses a hand-held suction pump to pull air out of the cup to create vacuum and heat. [Sources: 2, 5, 8]


Dead or static blood, lymph, cellular deposits, pathogenic factors and toxins can be present in the body, and cupping can leave traces of stagnation or disease that move to the surface from deeper tissue layers. Cupping causes the cup to be sucked in to exert pressure and, in the event of trauma, can cause toxins to leak to the surface. If there are signs of cupping, stagnant blood and cellular deposits or pathogens can be brought to the surface and the lymphatic system purified. [Sources: 3, 7, 11]

Cupping can also cause side effects such as persistent skin discoloration, scars, burns, infections and worsening eczema and psoriasis. In rare cases, severe side effects have been reported, such as bleeding from the skull after scalp - cupping, anemia and blood loss from repeated wet - cupping. Cupping can affect the body up to four inches below the tissue, releasing toxins, activating lymph glands, disappearing, removing colon blockages and activating the skin. [Sources: 10, 12]

Most cupping wounds remain dark for a few days and can last all week. The dark bruising after cupping takes 7-10 days to fade and the tender bruising is over after 0 days. [Sources: 5, 9]

Chinese medics believe cupping can help keep the body in balance, increase overall blood flow and reduce pain. It is known that athletes use cupping therapies to improve their performance, reduce muscle stiffness, spasms, joint pain and injury-related scar tissue, and apply deep tissue massages. [Sources: 0, 1]

Cup therapy is an ancient technique that removes toxins from the body. It is used for a variety of reasons today, including for rehabilitation, pain management and improving athletic performance. [Sources: 8]

A plastic, silicone or glass cup is placed on the skin and a light suction lifts the skin and tissue into the cup.  

The suction may feel tight at first, but it is not painful as it pulls the skin upwards into the cup. Your therapist can also apply a lotion or oil to your skin to create less pressure as the cup slides over your skin. [Sources: 4]

It is important to understand that the red circular marks left by the cups are not typical bruises. Dark circles are not the same as bruises caused by blunt force trauma, and they are not as painful as a traditional bruise, so the therapist can perform a light massage of the area to help dissipate some of the dark circles. In physical therapy, the color of your markings is not considered to  correlate with organ systems or toxins although in other practices like Chinese Medicine, the marks are used to discern issues with organ systems and toxins evaluation. Many people experience dark bruises/marks from cupping. [Sources: 1, 4, 5]

The strange-looking circular markings could be the result of cup therapy.

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