Western-based cupping (dry cupping) uses plastic, silicone, or glass cups with a vacuum seal to influence myofascial tissue physiology. Unlike the compressive forces that are typically applied during other forms of manual therapy (e.g. massage, active release, IASTM), negative pressure within the cup visibly lifts the skin away from the body.
In short, while symptomatic muscle has been shown to have decreased blood flow and increased lactate levels, myofascial cupping appears to temporarily exaggerate the condition so as to “kick-start” the physiologic changes necessary to “reset” the tissue (Emerich et al, 2014).
Cupping may also lead to improved fascial gliding