Myofascial Cupping/Massage Cupping

If you watched the most recent Olympics, you could not help but notice the circular bruises on many of the athletes.  These marks were not weird injuries, but, from a healing technique called Cupping.  So what is Cupping?  CuppiFemale patient at the alternative practitionerng is a natural healing technique that has been around in various forms for thousands of years.  It was used in ancient Egypt, Greece, Africa and China.  There is even evidence of Hippocrates, using this early form of”medicine”. More recently it has been used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a way to improve the flow of Qi, or “life force”.

Cupping can be performed many different ways, but the concepts are very similar.  By using a device, such as a glass, plastic, or silicone “cup” to create a suction (or negative pressure) to lift the skin and underlying fascia. This stretches the fascia, and creates increased blood flow and lymphatic circulation in the area under the cup.  This technique is believed to promote healing, decrease scar tissue and decrease pain.  Massage Cupping uses the same technique to lift the fascia, but with the addition of a thin layer of oil, the practitioner can glide the cup along the skin to treat a larger area.

This technique makes a whole lot of sense in the manual therapy and fascial therapy fields.  There are some very important structures in the space under the skin and between the superficial and deep fascial layers.  There are small arteries, veins, lymphatic vessels and many, many, many nerves.  If this area becomes tight or adhered down, all of those structures can be affected.  Cupping can help to restore normal mobility and circulation in this area.


So what about the dark, bruising marks?  Isn’t this harmful or painful?  Well, that really depends on who you ask.  In many traditions the discoloration of the skin after treatment is a sign of effective treatment as it indicates toxins being released by the tissue.  Although not real pretty, this discoloration is not typically painful, however, may be tender and generally resolves in less than a week.  From a physical therapist’s perspective, this discoloration comes from small capillaries rupturing during the stretching of the tissue.  This cupppingmay occur with treatment, especially when the fascia is tight or adhered but, is not necessary for effective treatment.  Luckily, the newer cupping devices, allow the practitioner to better control the level of suction produced and can help decrease the risk of injury to these small capillaries, while still achieving adequate fascial stretching.  In our office, we typically use a gentler form of myofascial cupping, that does not typically result in extensive discoloration.

 If you are interested in learning more about how Myofascial Cupping may help you.  Please contact me at  or  schedule a wellness session today

Love and Peace,

Natura PT

Prostatitis- Male Pelvic Pain


This one is for the guys.  While 75-80% of the patients I treat are women,  I do treat quiet a few male patients.  The number one reason that men come to me for treatment is for chronic pelvic pain syndrome, often diagnosed as “chronic non-bacterial prostatitis”.  Now this diagnosis can be really confusing.  “Prostatitis”  means “inflammation  of the prostate gland”, but in many cases it has nothing to do with the prostate at all.  Symptoms  of “prostatitis” include pain in the area of the prostate (perineal, testicular, penile, lower abdominal) and difficulty with, or painful, urination.  The National Institutes of Health (in the USA) breakdown the diagnosis of prostatitis to 4 categories

  • Category I: Acute bacterial prostatitis
  • Category II: Chronic bacterial prostatitis
  • Category III: Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS)
    • A. Inflammatory
    • B. Noninflammatory
  • Category IV: Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

The patients that I treat typically fall into the Category III, Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome which makes up to 90-95% of patients diagnosed with prostatitis.  This category may or may not have anything to do with the prostate.   NIH describes type III as:

Irritation with urination, without indication of urinary tract infection (for over 3 months duration). The prostate may be normal or enlarged, but not tender. Chronic pelvic pain may include, perineal, lower abdominal, penile, testicular, rectal and lower back, pain and may include ejaculatory pain.

90-95% of cases of “prostatitis” are non-bacterial (category III)  Yet, surprisingly, even with only 5-10% of cases actually showing an infection in the prostate, antibiotics are still the most common treatment prescribed for all patients with prostatitis in the US.  I can attest, that most of the patients that eventually come to see me have been  on  4, 5 …or more courses of antibiotics, with no success.   Although antibiotics are very necessary for the treatment of bacterial prostatitis , they are not effective for non-bacterial categories.

So why do doctors still prescribe antibiotics?

This may be from the notion that there may be a hidden, undetected infection that is the cause of the pain.  Or it may be from lack of knowledge about other possible treatment options.

So if it is not an infection, what is it?

There have been research studies trying to determine the “one” cause of chronic pelvic pain.  Is it neurological? Is it hormonal? Is musculo-skeletal?  Is it psychological?  While all of these have shown some relationship, none have provided us with the “smoking gun”.

The most effective model that I have seen so far for treating patients with prostatitis is the UPOINT model  (J.C .Nickel, et al).  Although there is plenty room for improvement, the UPOINT model is a good start and shows good improvement in dealing with this challenging condition.

The UPOINT model suggests that there may be multiple different factors that contribute to ongoing pelvic pain in men.  It suggests that treatment recommendations should be individualized to the patient, based on their clinical findings.  This should include a team approach including medication, physical therapy and psychology when indicated.


Pelvic physical therapy has been shown to be very effective treatment for pelvic floor muscle pain (Tenderness), with very little risk.   However, what is not shown on this (medication dominant) table is that physical therapy treatment can also have a positive impact on the urinary, psychosocial and neurologic components.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a psychologist and I don’t pretend to be!   I do work closely with several counselors who provide amazing care.  However, we do know that simply providing education, a supportive environment, and reassurance, we can significantly reduce psychological distress, and may be appropriate for those with only mild clinical findings in the psychosocial category.

We also know that appropriate exercise, breathing, mindfulness and relaxation training can have a significant effect on the nervous system , which may be better tolerated than any of the medications recommended to address these same issues.  Concerning urinary symptoms, I have seen with many patients, that if they improve the function of their pelvic floor muscles, the urinary urgency, frequency, and incomplete emptying can resolve.


So, my wish list is this:


1) I would like to see more physicians using a modified  UPOINT model to guide care for men with prostatitis. ( please consider non-mediation options before medication options, when appropriate)

2) I would like to see more physicians assessing the pelvic floor for tenderness to help know when to refer to physical therapy.

2a) And for those physicians that don’t feel competent in assessing the pelvic floor muscles, I would like to see them connect with one of the amazing pelvic floor therapist all around the world that would happily work with them 🙂

3)  I would like for more men with prostatitis get appropriate early treatment, so that they don’t have to suffer for months or years with this distressing and debilitating condition.

If you share these wishes with me, please share this information!

Please contact me at with any questions



Hello world!

This is the very first post by NaturaPT.  We will be posting about important topics in Pelvic Health and Women’s Health.  Your comments and recommendations are appreciated.  Please make sure all comments are  with constructive intent.  It is only together that we can make positive changes in women’s (and men’s) heathcare

Love and Peace,

Natura PT