Cupping is like a reverse deep tissue massage. Instead of pushing on the soft tissue you are pulling by creating a vacuum with a cup. There are several types of cups, fire, bamboo, silicone or plastic cups but all work with the same mechanism of action. Cupping breaks up old connective tissue restrictions or deep musculo-skeletal holding patterns to allow the old blood to be released in order to be reassimilated by the body.
Gua sha is a scraping technique that works along lines of connective tissue to increase blood flow and to decrease adhesions. It is similar to cupping in it's goal but the directionality of the technique is slightly different. Both are very powerful for changing long standing patterns or stuck pain. These adjunct therapies work more quickly for pain that needles alone.