What is Cupping and Why is it Used?

By Marissa Mason





What is cupping?


Cupping is a modality that originated in Chinese and Arab medicine around 2,000 years ago2. A pump is used to achieve a negative pressure over the skin, which increases microcirculation, detoxifies tissues, relieves painful muscle tension, and controls the inflammatory process. Two major types of cupping are used today: dry and wet cupping. Wet cupping is currently prohibited by physical therapy regulations because the skin is lacerated to draw blood into the cup. Risks of therapeutic cupping include: infection, bruising left on the skin, pain following treatment, and burns. Cupping should not be used with patients who have cancer, edema, bleeding conditions, or infections. Therapeutic cupping has been used for conditions such as plantar fasciitis, hypertension, stroke, low back pain, shingles, and knee osteoarthritis.





A study on dry cupping on plantar fasciitis had a total of 29 patients who either received dry cupping or electrical stimulation. The patients received either modality twice a week for four weeks. As a result, both modalities improved function and pain1.

A meta-analysis for neck pain and low back pain included 75 randomized controlled trials. Three treatments that were reviewed were acupuncture, acupressure, and cupping. The researchers concluded that all treatments were effective in treating short term pain and disability. However, the studies were limited to Chinese or English language and the studies had low to moderate strength of evidence3.



Future research


There must be more research to prove the effectiveness of therapeutic cupping. This modality is difficult/impossible to be a double-blind study. It can’t work like a drug versus a sugar pill. The patient and practitioner administering it are going to know whether cupping is being performed.



Do you think that therapeutic cupping is going to make its way mainstream in physical therapy clinics throughout the US?





  1. Ge W., Leson C., Vukovic C. 2017. Dry cupping for plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(5): 859-862. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts. Accessed July 16, 2017.
  2. Reddy, B. (2017). Science of Cupping. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://www.nccaom.org/science-of-cupping/
  3. Yuan, Q., Guo, T., Liu, L., Sun, F., & Zhang, Y. (2015). Traditional Chinese Medicine for Neck Pain and Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE10(2), e0117146. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117146


PT Can Help TMJ!

By Emily Currier, SPT



Have you been experiencing jaw pain? Noticed it hurts to talk and chew your food? Then Physical Therapy might be the place for you!


What is TMJD?


TMJD, or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, is a common condition that limits the natural functions of the jaw and can affect all ages and genders. The most common symptoms associated with TMJD include jaw pain, jaw fatigue, restricted movement, popping or clicking during opening of the jaw, clenching or grinding of the teeth, neck pain, ringing in the ears, and headaches. Physical therapy can help all of these symptoms!



What can Physical Therapy do for you?


There are many different ways physical therapy can improve your TMJD depending on how and why you are experiencing your symptoms. Physical therapy works to improve posture which can be one of the main causes of TMJD. Physical therapy can also improve restricted movements of the jaw, strengthen and stretch muscles attached to the jaw that may be part of the cause, and manual therapy to release tension. All of these help to restore normal jaw alignment and manage patient’s symptoms. Physical therapy also has many options available for pain relief.



How do you prevent TMJD?


Prevention is key! By decreasing your stress and anxiety you can limit the amount you clench your jaw and grind your teeth. Decreasing your stress and anxiety levels also promotes relaxation of the neck musculature which is closely related to TMJD. Another way you can prevent TMJD is good posture. Make sure you sit/stand with your shoulders back and your spine in a neutral position. While sitting on the couch, looking down at our phones, or at the desk all day at work, we tend to sit with rounded shoulders and a forward head position. Avoiding this position is important to prevent TMJD.



Did you know that more than 50% of the population experiences symptoms associated with TMJD at least once a year; however, only about 5% of the population will seek treatment? Don’t let that be you! Take control of your TMJD now!





“Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.” American Physical Therapy Association. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 July 2017.


5 Reasons why you should go to PT after pregnancy

By Autumn Hansen, SPT


While your post-pregnancy symptoms may feel like “normal pregnancy-related pains” to you, there are ways you can be treated so that you can return to your pre-pregnancy activities. You do not need a referral from your doctor to stop in for an evaluation! Here are just a few of the many ways you can benefit from physical therapy…



  • To stabilize your core muscles:1-3 As your baby grows and your body goes through hormonal changes, your muscles and ligaments get stretched out. Your PT can teach you safe and effective exercises to get your core strength back, which is necessary for your body to function optimally.


  • To fix your posture:1,3 Your body changes the way it holds itself during different stages of pregnancy. Faulty posture can result in pain as certain muscles tighten up and pull your body into an abnormal, uncomfortable position. Proper posture is one of the best ways to prevent future injuries! Your PT can show you the best way to use your body during various daily activities.


  • To reduce back and hip pain:1,3 Your PT can alleviate pain through hands-on treatment, while teaching ways to reduce strain and pressure on your joints. Your PT can also recommend lumbar support braces to assist with alignment.


  • To restore your flexibility:1 Muscles that are underused during pregnancy can “shut off’ and shorten up over time. Your PT will teach you safe stretching techniques to help loosen up your tight muscles, so that you can move around with more comfort and ease.


  • To return to your normal activity levels:1-3 Your PT will start you off with simpler exercises, and will eventually progress you to more challenging and complex exercises. These activities will allow you to safely return to your hobbies, sports, and work duties.



Check out this podcast for some more information, and contact your local Sports PT office to schedule an appointment!




  1. El-Mekawy H, Eldeeb A. Effect of Abdominal Exercises versus Abdominal Supporting Belt on
    Post-Partum Abdominal Efficiency and Rectus Separation. International Journal of Medical, Health,
    Biomedical, Bioengineering and Pharmaceutical Engineering.
  2. Physical Therapist’s Guide to Pelvic Pain Move Forward PT. Published May 10, 2011. Accessed July
    5, 2017.
    3. Stuge B, Veierød M, Lærum E, Vøllestad N. The Efficacy of a Treatment Program Focusing on Specific
    Stabilizing Exercises for Pelvic Girdle Pain After Pregnancy: A Two-Year Follow-up of a Randomized
            Clinical Trial. SPINE. 2004;29(10):E197-E203.


PT After Spinal Surgery Speeds Up Recovery!

By Sarah Casella




Recovering from a disc surgery but still in pain? Undergoing discectomy soon? Physical therapy can help!


Research shows that people who come to physical therapy even after simple spinal surgeries recover faster and have less pain, due to more active treatment methods and supervised, individualized care.1-3 Studies show that beginning physical therapy immediately after surgery is safe and can significantly reduce pain and impairments. Early PT can address the following:3


-Ensuring proper brace fitting and overseeing proper post-op precautions


-Preventing/decreasing muscle atrophy after surgery


-Coaching on how to return to activity safely


-Individualized, supervised exercises to stabilize the spine, strengthen the legs, and return to normal function


-Education on posture and safe lifting techniques to prevent re-injury in the future


Studies have also demonstrated that more intensive treatment programs initiated 4-6 weeks after surgery that focus on relaxation training, lumbar flexibility, and dynamic core and leg stability lead to faster return to work and normal activities, and less pain than just recovering at home.1,2



Don’t let your back pain after surgery or fear of movement permanently limit your function. Ask your surgeon for a referral to PT, or come by yourself via direct access!




1.Ostelo R, de Vet H, Waddell G, Kerckhoffs M, Leffers P, van Tulder M. Rehabilitation following first-time lumbar disc surgery. SPINE. 2003;28(3):209-218.

2.Filiz M, Cakmak A, Ozcan E. The effectiveness of exercise programmes after lumbar disc surgery: a randomized controlled study. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2005;19:4-11.

3.Snowdon M, Phys B, Peiris C. Physiotherapy commenced within the first four weeks post-spinal surgery is safe and effective: A systematic review and meta-analysis. ACRM. 2016;97:292-301.


What is Hip Impingement?

By Noah Poskanzer, SPT



As hockey playoffs are in full swing, overuse injuries, especially towards the end of the season, can hinder performance. “Hip impingement” is a common injury with hockey players.



What are the symptoms of Hip Impingement?

  • Stiffness/pain in hip/groin area, loss of full range of motion and pain in certain movements or positions



Best Treatment Options

  • The best treatment is to improve muscle balance, stretch areas of tightness, and strengthen areas of weak muscle surrounding the hip. Research shows that PT is the best first option for hip impingement. Removing the source of irritation, such as period of rest can help to reduce inflammation while focusing on PT. Surgical intervention is an option in severe cases and when conservative treatment isn’t effective.



What type of exercise is effective?

  • Exercise should include pelvic and hip stabilization, hip and abdomen strengthening. A large focus is placed on glut medius ( buttock) strengthening. A PT will also provide manual intervention such as hip capsular stretching, along with stretching



-At first exercises should be less complex to build a foundation, then progress to more complex exercises, and then incorporate higher level plyometric exercises for safe return to sport.



For more information on hip impingement, contact info@sptny.com.


3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain While Gardening

 1. Plant Location

  • Ground level: Try to do ground level work on your hands and knees to minimize pressure placed on your spine. Periodically swapping your working hand with the one you’re putting weight through may reduce pressure on wrists/shoulders.


2. Lifting

  • Lift closer to your body: Objects further away prevent us from using our larger, stronger muscles. Using a closer approach with good form allows us to use these muscles.
  • Bend at your knees – not your back: A rounded spine with lifting causes increased pressure on the discs in our backs. Keep your back flat and squat down to lift target object by bending your knees and hips.


3. Tools

  • Keep your tools sharpened: Dull tools may cause us to use more repetitive motion creating more stress the joints in our hands and wrists. It’s a worthy investment to reduce effort. Local hardware stores often offer sharpening services at a reasonable price.






5 Tips to Improve Your Golf Swing and Prevent Low Back Pain

By: Meghan Diehl, SPT




Low back pain is a very common musculoskeletal problem affecting golfers of all ages and skill levels. In fact, low back conditions account for approximately 25% of all golf injuries.1


WHY? The lumbar spine is exposed to significant compression, shearing, torsion, and lateral bending forces during the golf swing.2


Follow these tips to maintain a healthy back during your golf season!


1) Raise your front heel during the backswing. This allows for increased hip swing and shortening of the backswing, which will decrease the amount of torque on the lumbar spine.2


2) Maintain an upright trunk during the acceleration phase. This will decrease the amount of lateral bending forces on the trailside of your body during the down and forward motion of the golf swing.2


3) Finish with balanced shoulders and an erect “I” position at follow-through. Standing upright at the end of the swing will decrease the compressive forces on the lumbar spine.2


4) Get stronger! Having strong trunk and hip muscles will improve your overall stability and control, which will protect your body from the increased forces imposed during the golf swing. Strengthening exercises to incorporate into your exercise routine include: planks, side planks, clams, and bridges.


5) Choose your equipment wisely! Push the golf cart instead of pulling to maintain an upright posture. Consider using a dual “backpack strap” to distribute the weight of the clubs more evenly across both shoulders.


Best of luck this season!




Lindsay D, Vandervoort A. Golf-related low back pain: a review of causative factors and prevention strategies. Asian J Sports Med. 2014;5(4):e24289. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.24289


Gluck G, Bendo J, Spivak J. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention. Spine J. 2008;8(5):778-788. pmid: 20161213


Rowing: The Total Body Workout

Looking for a great way to get in shape, stay in shape, or wanting to try something new? Rowing could be the answer!


What is Rowing?

Rowing (aka crew) is not kayaking or canoeing which is a common misconception.

When sitting in a boat, a person’s feet are strapped onto a “footplate” and the person is sitting on a seat which is on wheels on a track which allows the seat to slide up and down, finally the person is holding a 12’ oar in their hands. The oar is secured to the side of the boat by an “oar lock” which allows the oar to move as the person pulls it through the water during the rowing motion.

This sounds rather daunting but don’t let it scare you!


Why rowing?

Rowing is a wonderful sport because it is accessible to everyone from high school athletes to middle aged individuals looking to be active, and there is even a program in the Rochester area made up entirely by cancer survivors.

Another wonderful benefit of rowing is that due to the amount of precision and concentration required, it is just as much about sharpening the mind as it is about strengthening the body.

If you are looking for a new exciting experience which fosters teamwork and community, rowing may be the sport for you!


What makes Rowing unique?

Rowing is great for overall fitness because it requires the use of nearly all the major muscles in your body!

Most of the power comes from your legs (about 60%), then your back and abdominal muscles engage and finally your arms pry the oar out of the water. Another unique thing about rowing is one gets to be on the water!

Whether it is a canal, river, or lake the experience of being out on the water is what makes rowing most enjoyable and unique. 




Muscles used while rowing

What Does a Rowing Machine Do For Your Body?


How Can Blood Flow Restriction Training Help Patients and Athletes Alike?

By Robert Crandall, SPT



Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is a hot topic in both the fitness and health care world right now due to its ability to increase strength and muscular hypertrophy more quickly than traditional progressive resistance exercise. It is performed by the occlusion of blood circulation, with either a blood pressure cuff or elastic bands placed proximally on the limb, in a working muscle group while performing resistance exercises. The objective of BFR is to occlude venous blood return without significantly affecting arterial circulation. In this way, blood enters into the muscle but cannot escape until the pressure of the restricted implement is released. The pressure used with blood pressure cuffs is typically placed at a pressure between 50-80% of the pressure for which it takes to stop arterial flow into the limb. When using elastic wraps or tourniquets, which were found to be as effective as blood pressure cuffs, should be placed at a subjective 7/10 tightness level.


Many research articles are being published about the strength and muscle enhancing effects of performing this novel type of resistance training. There are clinical trials that show that blood flow restriction alone, without any resistance, or even muscular activation of the limb, can be effective enough to decrease the typical muscular atrophy and diminished strength subsequently following the immobilization of a limb in a cast.  The research also boasts larger strength gains for untrained individuals with restricted blood flow and low load exercise performed with low resistance loads (20-40% of MVIC or 1RM) for 3-4 sets with a total of 50- 80 reps performed total. These sets are done with limited rest between them, 30-45 seconds, 2-4 times a week. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who cannot tolerate the typical training with 70% of MVIC required to increase muscular strength. The research even shows decreased metabolic stress factors and joint compressive forces while using blood flow restriction training as compared to traditional strength training.


For athletes, even as well trained as at the collegiate level there is a benefit to the addition of blood flow restriction training to their normal strength training programs. Studies have shown increased bench press and squat 1RM in division 1A football players as well as faster sprinting times in collegiate track athletes. For these well trained individuals they should perform the blood flow restriction training described above following their typical high load resistance training for maximum benefits.


The mechanisms for which blood flow restriction training work through include increased accumulation of metabolites in the muscle tissues causing a larger decrease in the local pH which in turn increases the overall excitability of the afferent nerves in the local musculature. Meaning that muscular fibers require less overall stimulus for activation, thus increasing the number of muscle fibers stimulated during a muscular contraction by amplifying the signals sent from the central nervous system.The restricted flow of blood also increases the levels of muscle building hormones like free testosterone and IGF-1 in the muscle tissue as compared to typical progressive resistance exercise.


With all of these benefits the use of blood flow restriction training should only steadily increase, especially as more and more clinical research is performed. Although due the increased demands placed on the peripheral vasculature of the limbs being trained, people with a history of DVTs, who are pregnant, who have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, or peripheral vascular disease are generally contraindicated from participating in blood flow restriction training.




  • Abe T, Kawamoto K, Yasuda T, et al. Eight days KAATSU resistance training improved sprint but not jump performance in collegiate male track and field athletes. Int J KAATSU Train Res. 2005;1(1):19–23.
  • Cook CJ, Kilduff LP, Beaven CM. Improving strength and power in trained athletes with 3 weeks of occlusion training. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014
    Jan;9(1):166-72. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2013-0018. PubMed PMID: 23628627.
  • Scott BR, Slattery KM, Sculley DV, et al. Hypoxia and resistance exercise: a comparison of localized and systemic methods. Sports Med.2014;44(8):1037–54
  • Takarada Y, Takazawa H, Ishii N. Applications of vascular occlusion diminish disuse atrophy of knee extensor muscles. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(12):2035–9
  • Yamanaka T, Farley RS, Caputo JL. Occlusion training increases muscular strength in division IA football players. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Sep;26(9):2523-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31823f2b0e. PubMed PMID: 22105051.


5 Healthy Tips for Airplane Travel

By: Dr. Alanna Pokorski, PT, DPT



1.) Hydrate, hydrate hydrate! Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day is recommended especially when going on an airplane. Airplanes are very dry and you don’t want to kick off your vacation with dehydration (muscle cramping, headaches, body aches, nausea).



2.) Bring a travel pillow. Airplane seats are certainly getting more comfy, however when resting on a plane, the neck needs more support to prevent the “neck flop”. A travel cervical pillow keeps your neck and mid back in good alignment as you dream of your vacation plans. Don’t forget your kids too! Their little necks need support as well.



3.) Minimize swelling. Move your ankles and feet in fun alphabet shapes randomly throughout the flight. This will help decrease any swelling that can occur in your calves, especially if you struggle with circulation.



4.) Straighten up! Take that extra sweater you have and carefully roll it into a log shape and place it behind you on your tailbone. This will serve as a “lumbar roll” for your low back during the flight to maintain good seated posture.



5.) Luggage Love! Keep your luggage symmetrical on both sides of you if possible. Maybe one bag on one shoulder and one suitcase in the other hand. This will help keep you spine straight as you walk (or run) through the airport.



Enjoy your travels!