Cassandra McCoy Physical Health Uncategorized

Dry Needling: What is it, Who it can help you, Why you should consider it, and What happens during a session

by Cassandra McCoy MAT, LAT, ATC, RYT


Dry needling is a unique recovery technique used by many osteo/rehab professionals around the world. If you have never heard of it, or aren’t familiar with the technique, let’s break down what dry needling is, what it does, and why YOU should try it out!

What is it?

Dry needling, also referred to as a myofascial needling, is a technique used to treat pain and soreness in the soft tissues of the body. Practitioners use a very thin “Dry” needle, no fluid or medications involved, to stimulate the body’s healing processes within the targeted tissue. Think of it kind of like a spotlight, shining on the issues in the tissues so the body can get to work.


Its well known older brother, acupuncture, is a bit different from dry needling in several ways. Dry needling is based more on western methods, myofascial tissue and Western scientific research versus acupuncture is based on an Eastern Traditional technique. Acupuncture can help with allergies, headaches, disorders and more, whereas dry needling focuses more on soft tissue pathology.

So why should you consider dry needling as a treatment option for recovering from injury or sport?

Let’s break down a few highlights:

It is a minimally invasive treatment

It is not a steroid, NSAID or other medication that can have side effects

It is a great addition to physical therapy techniques such as cupping, IASTM etc

It helps to speed up the process of getting off pain medications

Most see improvement in pain after first 2 treatments

Average appointments needed ranges from 4 to 6


Who can benefit from dry needling?

Someone suffering from:

  • Muscle tightness,
  • Pulled muscles, ankle sprains, chronic upper back/shoulder tension,
  • Muscle fatigue,
  • Muscle, tendon or ligament injury
  • Chronic pain

What should you expect to happen during a dry needling session? 


Once your practitioner determines dry needling would help you, the areas that he or she tends to dry needle will be prepped and cleaned. Remember, this might be at the site of injury or a point else that affects that is connected to the area!

Dry needling uses tiny needles, the same used in acupuncture treatments, that go deep into the tissues. Your provider might leave them in for a few moments or up to 15 minutes depending on the goal or style used.

                         After the tissue has released, or the practitioner is done with the needle, he or she will draw it out and place the used needle in a biohazard container to be safely discarded.

If you have any questions or comments, please seek out your local rehabilitation professional such as a licensed athletic trainer, physical therapist or osteo doctor. Also, contact Positively Balanced and Cassandra McCoy MAT, LAT, ATC, RYT if you are local to Skiatook, OK for this great therapy. Book sessions here or send questions to our email at



*This is not medical advice and purely for educational use, please see your provider to determine this is method is right for you.


About Cassandra:

Hi friend. I’m Cassandra. I’m an athletic trainer who is trained in soft tissue techniques for injury and prevention and treatment based in Tulsa and Skiatook, Oklahoma. I hold a Bachelors degree in Health Education and Exercise Science and a Masters degree in Athletic Training. I help people overcome injury and pain, so they can continue the workouts and fitness classes they enjoy. 


If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you are not your diagnosis, pain, or injury and there is always a way to get back to what you love. 


Some of the things that I can help you with include 


  • Safely pursuing fitness classes while addressing post-pregnancy related issues diastasis, prolapse, or incontinence.
  • Creating personalized post-rehab or injury prevention programs, so you can troubleshoot hip, knee, low back, or shoulder pain while continuing the activities that you enjoy.
  • Reducing joint pain and discomfort through specialized manual therapy techniques, including cupping, rock tape, and instrument assisted massage.
  • Assessing your form and offering feedback, so you can squat, lunge, and deadlift without pain.

When I’m not working with clients, I can be found playing with my son and husband outside, gardening, cooking, and teaching movement classes. To connect with me visit my website or say hello on Instagram @womenshealthathletictrainer.

Physical Health Rachel Warner

The Advice You Should’ve Gotten

by Rachel Warner MAT, ATC, LAT

I didn’t receive helpful advice from my doctor regarding exercise when I became pregnant. I asked all the questions and got the same canned answer, “just keep doing what you were doing before you got pregnant.”  Just for the record,  I was deadlifting  300lbs and playing soccer. Not things I should have been doing without modification, at the very least. Needless to say, I did not leave the office feeling educated or empowered. 

The lack of clear direction tends to make moms overly cautious during pregnancy, oftentimes avoiding exercise all together, and too quick to return in the postpartum period. So what is the actual advice for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology? Light to moderate exercise during pregnancy is advised for nearly every pregnant person. It has been shown so many benefits including better sleep, lower rates of depression while pregnant and postpartum, decreased risk of preeclampsia, decreased risk of urinary incontinence, decreased risk of cesarean section, and decreased chance of excessive weight gain during pregnancy. 

So, what could you do if you did not exercise prior to becoming pregnant? First, check with your doctor to ensure that light to moderate exercise is safe for you, there are some absolute contraindications for exercise such as restrictive lung disease. Once you get the go ahead, start with lower intensity and shorter bouts of exercise. Gradually increase the time and intensity as your body becomes conditioned. The goal is to start with 1-2 hours a week broken up into multiple 20 to 30 minute sessions. Keep your perceived effort at a moderate level the majority of the time, you should be able speak sentences, but a full conversation would be difficult. Be sure to listen to your body, stop and notify your doctor if you begin experiencing dizziness, chest pain, muscle weakness affecting balance, calf pain or swelling, vaginal bleeding, regular painful contractions, or amniotic fluid leakage. 

There are a few activities you should avoid while pregnant, to ensure your safety and that of the baby. 

  1. Any activity with a high risk of falling. (skiing, surfing, off road- cycling, gymnastics, horseback riding)
  2. Contact sports. (soccer, football, boxing, hockey, rugby, and basketball)
  3. Scuba Diving
  4. Activities in high temperatures (hot yoga, hot pilates) 

If you are not doing any of the activities above, you are likely good to keep doing what you are doing as long as you feel comfortable. Keep in mind, pregnancy is not the time to PR. Modifications to training are recommended and oftentimes required as pregnancy progresses. If you are accustomed to high levels of activity, it is advised to keep high intensity training short. 

If you are unsure what is safe of how to modify an activity consult a healthcare provider specializes in pre and postnatal fitness. 

Visit Rachel and learn more about what she does at:

Cassandra McCoy Intellectual Health Occupational Health Physical Health

Professionals Who Bridge the Gap in Women’s Health – Part 1

By Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT,

What is a Certified Athletic Trainer and what do they do? What is a Physical Therapist and what do they do?

What about a Women’s Health Athletic Trainer? Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?

All of these titles, professions and letters can get confusing, so let’s break down the professions of an Athletic Trainer and a Physical Therapist. Also, in Part 2 I will introduce the role and capacity of a Women’s Health Athletic Trainer and break down how two professions (Women’s Health ATCs/Pelvic Floor PTs) can work together to improve women’s health worldwide. 

Here are a few basics definitions:

ATC/AT: Certified Athletic Trainer

LAT: Licensed Athletic Trainer

PT: Physical Therapist

PFPT: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

According to the National Athletic Training Association (NATA), an Athletic Trainer is defined as “Health care professionals who render service or treatment, under the direction of or in collaboration with a physician, in accordance with their education and training and the state’s statutes, rules, and regulations. As a part of the health care team, services provided by athletic trainers include primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.” 

Athletic Trainers are seen in various settings with examples including military, orthopedic clinics, performing arts, physical therapy departments, private practice and so much more. ATCs/LATs do more than just tape ankles; we are medical healthcare professionals who have the education to prevent, rehab, educate, and treat active population across the lifespan. (Myth busting: You don’t have to be an athlete to see an athletic trainer!)

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a Physical Therapist is defined as “health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.” Physical Therapists are seen in hospitals, physical therapy departments, pediatrics, hospice services, private practices and more. 

Now, there has been a lasting conflict between the physical therapist profession and athletic trainer profession. Turf wars, conflicting opinions and more. In some settings, we see this divide disappearing. PTs are able to send their patients to a knowledgeable AT in order to continue their patients healing and help them return to what they love. ATs are able to work with active population in a variety of settings, patients they believe need more narrowed and concentrated help can refer a patient back to a PT.  

Stay tuned for part two on how these two professions can come together to change the dynamic of their professions,  women’s health and bridge the gap in women’s health.


Occupational Health Social Health Sophia Pollalis

Women Making History in Athletic Training

By Sophia Pollalis

March is National Athletic Training Month as well as National Women’s History Month, so I thought I’d share a little of this woman’s history with athletic training. I have wanted to be an athletic trainer since I was a sophomore in high school. My mom had persuaded me to see that I was not going to be on the US women’s national soccer team because I got injured too often and let’s face it, I was no child prodigy. I spent a lot of time in the athletic training room doing rehabilitation for injuries, getting ice after practice or games, and soaking up everything. I got a good idea of what an athletic trainer did and their involvement in sports. When I sprained my MCL my sophomore year, I already knew what was wrong with me before I went to the doctor. I had done all the research, looked at the anatomy, read about the mechanism of injury. Needless to say, the doctor was impressed (toot toot!). While my story is my own, the context is not unique; many athletic trainers have the same origin story of being an athlete, being injured, and having their first experience with athletic training.

Athletic training is a catch-all profession; we are Jacks of all trades, MacGyver, artists, allied healthcare professionals. We are required to take a national certification exam to demonstrate competencies in evidence-based practice, prevention of injury, health promotion, clinical examination, acute care of injury and illness, therapeutic interventions, psychosocial strategies, health care administration, and professional development and responsibilities. Athletic training as a profession has been recognized by the American Medical Association since 1991. We work with people who move their bodies from age 5 to 105 in settings from schools and pro sports to the workplace. We are finding other places our skillset can serve all the time, like the military.

I currently work in the high school setting. It’s a small school and I know 90% of my athletes by name, even if they haven’t stepped foot in the athletic training facility. If you asked me what task I performed the most, it would be cleaning up blood and covering wounds. The second most common thing I do is listen when an athlete comes into my room after a tough day. Which is every day. Hellooooooo high school students. 

Not every day is as easy as listening to kids and cleaning up a little blood. Some days I’m watching wrestling sitting on the edge of my seat praying that shoulder doesn’t dislocate. Some days I’m cradling an athlete’s head in my arms stabilizing their c-spine because they took a head-to-head hit and they can’t feel their legs. Some days my heart is breaking for my athlete who had their senior year taken from them because they tore their ACL. And some days I spend the entire afternoon doing paperwork and coming up with rehab programs. Our days are truly a box of chocolates. Athletic trainers are always expecting the worst, ready to take action when they happen, and there to feel the feels with the team whether they win state or lose a family member.

This unique relationship between athletic trainer and athlete brings trust and closeness. Being caretakers and having just about anything you could imagine in our human repair kits, many of the female variety athletic trainer report being called “mom.”

Women have become a large percentage of the population of NATA members; in fact, the 2018 count had women at 56% of members while in 1996 we only counted 44%. While we can only speculate, this shift is likely to come from increased exposure of athletic training to young female athletes, the increase of female athletes, and the ability of athletic trainers to work more “traditional” hours. We are also expanding and breaking the glass ceilings that seemed unattainable for so long. If you watched any TV around Super Bowl time this year, you probably saw a tablet commercial featuring Katie Sowers, the first female coach at the Super Bowl. She wasn’t the only female making a first at the Super Bowl; Laura McCabe provided care for the 49ers, Tiffany Morton and Julie Frymyer for the Chiefs These are huge positions of visibility that allow what seemed to be a dream for a child (or professional) to become a reality.

Women in athletic training are making huge strides across the nation. While we have never been discouraged to become athletic trainers, we have certainly met limitations. In 2010, women represented close to 50% of assistant, associate, or graduate assistant athletic trainers at the D1 level5. However, women held less than 20% of head athletic trainer positions. Those that did become head athletic trainers did so due to their persistence and strong leadership skills. We will always have work-life balance as an obstacle to the highest reaches of our profession, just as men do. However, until women can be universally supported in the prospect of having a family and a time-consuming head athletic position, we will not obtain an even split or majority of head positions.






5. The Experiences of Female Athletic Trainers in the Role of Head Athletic Trainer. Journal of Athletic Training 2015; 50(1): 71-81. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-49.3.50

Mental Health Physical Health Uncategorized

The D Word….

by Rachel Warner

Let’s go ahead and just put this out there, F$%^ diet culture. Feel free to scream it from the rooftops, I most certainly do. If you aren’t there yet, or have no idea what diet culture is, sit back while we learn about the whole multibillion dollar industry that exist to strip your joy and make you feel inadequate. Diet culture is a system of beliefs that values thinness and equates it moral virtue. In short, diet culture is behind instagram favorites like #bodygoals and sponsored flat belly tea ads. Let’s dispel some diet culture myths shall we?

Myth: Thin values hold more value than all the other bodies. 

Fact: Body positivity and smashing diet culture does not mean we don’t care what we look like. For me, it is knowing that my value does not exist in the way I look or the size I wear. Let me say this real loud and clear for those in the back, you and your body have value. There is literally nothing you or anyone else can do to change that fact. Your value exists because you are a living breathing human being. That is it, that’s all you have to do. You don’t have more value because someone loves you, you birthed a baby, you have a super cool important job that pays a ton, or because you can run a marathon. Those are all awesome things that contribute to how wonderfully unique you are as a person, but they don’t change how valuable you are. 

Myth: You can only love your body when it is thin. 

Fact: You can love your body while wanting to change the way to moves, functions, or even looks. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. So you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, eat more vegetables, run faster, jump higher? Cool go for it, personal growth is fantastic! Along the way realize that you have already accomplished so much. Shrinking your body doesn’t make you a better person, just a smaller one. 

Myth: Bad people eat bad food and deserve to be fat. 

Fact: There is no good or bad food. Food is an inanimate object that does not have morality. What you put in your mouth does not impact your moral virtue. (What comes out of your mouth does, so be kind to people.) Food is either nutritious or it isn’t. Nutritionally dense food will keep you fuller longer and contribute to improving your overall health. Food is not healthy, you are.  Eating a nutritious diet helps keep you that way. 

These myths aren’t things we typically say out loud, but they are certainly lingering in our subconscious. When we tell our bestie “Oh my gosh, I did so bad today,” after having a couple chocolates at the end of the night. Diet culture is quitting that restrictive diet after grazing the appetizer table at the party, because you “fell off the wagon” again. Diet culture is the wraps and shakes guaranteed to make you skinny by Monday. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work! It is constantly feeling like you’d be happier if you could just lose 10lbs. 

The way you eat does not have to have a name or be supported by all the famous people to be healthy and right for you. It just has to meet your nutritional needs and help you reach our goals, whatever they might. If it came with a whole lot less judgement and body shaming along the way we’d all be doing ourselves a whole lot of good. That is how we smash diet culture.

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Physical Health Sophia Pollalis

Let Water be Your Friend

by Sophia Pollalis

Water. We can’t live without it. Our planet (and we) would die if it disappeared. We get excited when we find water or remnants of water on other planets because it means life to us. That should get you excited about water. 

WATER IS LIFE. We are born in it. We bathe in it. We play in it. We are soothed by its sounds. It allows life within it. We utilize it for transportation. We are sustained by its ability to join forces with heat to harden an egg or soften potatoes (which are my favorite). These qualities and uses of water are amazing, but the most important thing we should be doing with it is drinking it.

Water is essential to our bodies. If we don’t drink enough, we die. If we drink too much, we die. There’s a large amount of leeway between those to extremes that allow us to survive, but how much is optimal? For years the general thought was drinking 8 cups of water per day. Some people say, no! You should be drinking so much more! Others said 8 cups was too much.

Created by Cassandra McCoy

We don’t have to figure it out, we have to trust our bodies. Most people can get adequate hydration from drinking when they’re thirsty. The trick is differentiating between hunger and thirst. One thing I have found useful in differentiating this is drinking some water whenever I feel hungry. If that feeling doesn’t come back, I’ve quenched my thirst and I wasn’t actually hungry. The only time not to follow this is if you’re working up a sweat; you need to replace the fluid that you’ve lost1.

What if you don’t like the taste of water or the water quality in your area isn’t good?  Do you have to force yourself to consume it, or buy a bunch of plastic water bottles and “kill the earth”?

Absolutely not!  Water is in our beverages and food already. Our total hydration is calculated through everything we consume, not just water. About 20% of our water intake is provided by food2. Does your kid only like to drink milk? Guess what cows use to make milk?   Do you have an addiction to diet cola that you’re not ready to tackle yet? The first ingredient in soda is water. If eat tons of fruit and veggies that have water in them and I feel hydrated, do I need to drink 4 liters of water on top of this? Only if you want to and you feel it benefits your body. Just remember that anything that isn’t water has other things in it like sugar, calories, preservatives, and other things that aren’t necessarily good for you.

Listen to your body. Trust it. It was created and has evolved to be able to support you.

 Here are some fast facts about water and your body:

1.       Water provides structure to your cells3. Think all the way back to high school biology. Remember looking at cells under a microscope? Remember how uniform and structured they looked? That’s mostly because of water. Think grape versus raisin, or a filled water balloon versus a dead one. Water takes up space. What products do we put on our faces to avoid or fill in wrinkles or on our hands in the winter when they crack? Things that hydrate or bring moisture to our skin.

2.       Water lubricates joints3. Most of the joints in our body are synovial joints, meaning they have a fluid filled sack around them that provides lubrication for movement. Have you ever slid a glass across your table or watched it float around on its own because it’s in a puddle of condensation? Water provides the lubrication that allows to rough surfaces to glide across each other.

3.       Water absorbs heat with minimal temperature change4. This quality is what allows life on this planet to be so adaptable. Water’s high heat capacity, or its ability to absorb heat with minimal temperature change, is due to the chemical structure of water. A water molecule is 2 hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom (H20). In order for the temperature of water to increase, the bond between the hydrogen atoms and oxygen have to break. This takes energy. A lot of energy. Think about boiling water for a big pot of pasta. Even when you have your heat on high, it takes a while.

4.       Water helps remove waste products and transports nutrients throughout the body2,3. Our bodies have built-in detoxification systems (hello liver and kidneys!) that filter our blood of toxins and waste products that our bodies create. Paying attention to the color of your pee is a great way to tell if you’re hydrated enough. Staying hydrated enough also helps your bowels move easier.

5.       Sweating allows diffusion of gases across moist body surfaces5. You have sweat glands all over your body, which allows water to rise to the surface of your skin, moisten the skin, and evaporate. The evaporation removes the water, which removes the heat. Refer to fast fact number 3 about water’s heat capacity.

6.       Water provides a reactive medium within the body6. Our bodies are miraculous in all the things they do. There are millions of chemical reactions taking place inside your body at any given point. Creating energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP to be technical) is essential to everything we do, and water is a necessary element to its production. Water also provides a medium for solutions to be formed and reactions to take place in.

7.       Muscle weighs more than fat per volume because of its water content7. Water is more dense than fat, therefore people with a higher fat percentage will float. Approximately 10% of fat’s weight is water, while a muscle’s is 73%. In general, women have a higher fat content than men because of our stores of fat, and therefore our water content is slightly lower. Typically, our bodies are made up of 40-70% water. Other factors, such as age and aerobic fitness, can also affect total body water content.