Cupping is a traditional practice that can be found in many different cultures.
During cupping, glass or plastic cups are suctioned onto the patient to help increase the flow of qi and blood through the body. A technique of sliding the cups along tight muscle bands works very well to release tension and adhesions within the muscle. Cupping also works to pull stagnation or toxins from the patient through the skin. Cupping on the upper back can be very effective for the treatment of the common cold.
Gua Sha is similar to cupping in that it helps to increase qi and blood to the area.
It is performed by using a tool in a repetitive motion firmly across a tight area of musculature. It is effective in breaking up adhesions and knots within the muscles and allowing the qi and blood to once again to provide nourishment to the area. Gua Sha can be used in place of cupping in harder to reach areas of the body such as the nape and sides of the neck. It is a good adjunct technique to use when treating headaches.