Your Spinal Reboot!

-by Dr. Greg Eisert

I notice a theme each year as spring leads into summer that plays out in the lives of our Backfit patients. With longer days and warmer weather, we see an increase in activity levels. If we aren’t conscious about preparing our bodies for this transition, we are susceptible to injury.

Strains, sprains and everything in between are accomplished in many different ways. A few examples include: a vigorous gardening session, an epic tennis match, or the first soccer game of the year.

One thing we can all count on is that we will “feel” the effects of activities if we are not accustomed to them.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”    

~Alexander Graham Bell

Our capacity for healing and recovery is greatly impacted by our level of preparation. I have included a list to follow to minimize the “after effects” of the activities we love to do.

Action Steps:

  1. Plan Ahead: If this is going to be your first time gardening in 6 months, don’t plan on doing 6 hours straight. Incorporate breaks every 30 minutes to reduce the demands on your spine. Don’t overdo it!
  1. Warm Up: Prior to any type of vigorous activity, prepare your spine with a proper warm-up. This may include a wobble chair (or similar activity), cervical traction, range of motion exercises, as well as light stretching.
  1. Mindfulness: Your goal is to minimize sustained postural loading (strain) on the body. Be mindful of your posture and biomechanics when you hit the court or the green!
    1. Tennis: Avoid playing a gruelling 5-set marathon for your first match in 6 months.
    2. Gardening: rotate through body positions every 10 minutes.
    3. Golf: Listen to your body and stretch between holes.
  1. Spinal Foams: Lying on your spinal foams for as little as 5 minutes immediately after activity will help to reposition and “reboot” your spine.core 1
  2. Cryotherapy: Using ice or CryoDerm will help to reduce inflammation created from the activity. Inflammation is akin to a wild fire. The longer it’s left alone, the bigger the potential problem (pain and stiffness).


CryodermCryoderm 2


  1. If you’re out and about and cannot foam immediately after activity, apply CryoDerm to your area of concern. When you do arrive home, get on those foams and ice afterwards.

Keeping ahead of the inflammation is the best way to keep functioning at our best.

Experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of physical stress on the body is not a reflection of the state of our health. Rather, our health correlates with how well we “bounce back” from an aggravation or injury. What takes one person one day may take another person 2 weeks. This is a true reflection of one’s health and well being.

Now that you “know” –  it’s time to get outside and enjoy all that life has to offer!




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Become a Backfit Ambassador!

bf-11Backfit is looking for fun, creative, athletes, yogis, and coaches to help spread the word that healthy athletes make better athletes.

We believe that improving your spinal health will help you maximize your potential as an athlete. And we want to partner with you to help you achieve your dreams.

You already know that being an athlete means pursuing your next personal best one small improvement at a time. If you’re doing everything else right, improving your spinal health could be the missing piece.

You know that becoming your best means doing things differently. You’re ready to try a different approach.

We want to work with you to minimize your potential for injuries, and maximize
your recovery – so that you can train harder, and train smarter.

And we want to partner with you.  Apply today to become a Backfit Ambassador, and get access to a complete and comprehensive spinal fitness program, customized for you.

To apply, please send us a short email or video (under 5 minutes please) that
introduces us to who you are and why you’d make an amazing Backfit Ambassador. We are looking for ambassadors who are fun, creative, and not afraid to try
something new. Please send to by April 30, 2015.

Please include the following:
Your Name
Your Sport, Experience, and Goals
Why You’d Make an Amazing Backfit Ambassador
Your Experience with Social Media
Your contact info

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Ask an MD – Interview with Dr. Faulkner

Today we’re bringing you more from our interview series with Dr. Stephen Faulkner, MD. In our first video, watch as Dr. Bentham asks that burning question “Is chiropractic care safe?

In our second video, these two doctors have an important dialogue about the role of lifestyle habits in your spinal health. Which habits are you currently practicing? Is there something new you can implement?



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How Can You Change Your Posture?

The state of our health is, in many ways, the product of our thoughts and behaviours.  Whether it’s the way we nourish our body, our level of physical activity, or the amount of rest and reflection that we create time for, our behaviours have a direct impact on our health and wellbeing.  Agreed?  So here’s the thing… as humans, we have patterns to our behaviour – typical ways that we will react and respond in certain situations.  Changing patterns can be a challenging task.

Take a couple of minutes and listen in to this short clip from Dr. Doyle’s presentation on posture.  Yes – even your posture can be a product of your habits!  If you want to make a change, you have to create a new pattern.

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Backfit Interviews Dr. Stephen Faulkner, MD

With over 30 years of medical practice experience under his belt, Stephen Faulkner, MD has seen all too often the effects of neglecting our spinal health. A Backfit patient and advocate, Dr. Faulkner took the time to sit down with Dr. Bentham to provide his medical perspective on chiropractic, and the profound importance of the spine and nervous system.

Over the coming weeks, we will share this interview series with you through our blog and e-news.  These short, yet insightful, videos may help to answer some of the questions you have about your spine or the Backfit program.  We are certain you will feel informed and empowered by this candid conversation. Enjoy!



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7 Rules for Healthy Eating

This fall, we hosted our first annual LIFE Fair, and what an amazing day it was!

All 3 of our healthy living workshops were at capacity and we’ve received great feedback from so many of you.  In fact, there has been plenty of demand for more informative and engaging workshops like these.  In 2015, we have plans to expand our workshop series to provide you with even more tools to optimize your health and wellbeing.


For those of you that weren’t able to join us at the LIFE Fair, here are some of the highlights from Dr. Bentham’s class on healthy eating!  By following these simple and practical rules, you provide your body with the nourishment it needs to perform at an optimal level.

Watch the video by clicking here!


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The Ups and Downs of Inversion Therapy

~by Dr. Greg Eisert


Inversion therapy is nothing new… Hanging upside down to relieve pain and the effects of gravity has been documented as far back as 400 BC. Hippocrates used a complicated system of ladders and pulleys in order to remove weight from the spines of his patients. Today, inversion therapy is used with the goal of reversing the gravitational pull on the body’s organs, bones and joints.  But are the benefits of inversion purely theoretical or does it actually work?  See which are the best inversion tables here.

Reducing the pressure on the spinal joints and increasing disc spacing can relieve lower back pain. In theory, inversion tables should help to stretch and elongate the spinal column, allowing the spinal joints to separate. This separation of the spinal joints (where the spinal nerves enter and exit the spine) enables nerve impulses to travel unhindered to and from the brain. These nerve impulses are essential for life, coordinating everything from cellular repair to breathing.

Apart from spinal benefits, the use of inversion also has been shown to:

  • stimulate venous return
  • stimulate the lymphatic system
  • stimulate the autonomic nervous system and its baroreceptors (potentially effecting blood pressure)
  • increase oxygen flow to the brain
  • help maintain correct posture




Our joints are held together by muscles and ligaments. During inversion therapy the body is “actively” engaged against gravity. Unless the muscles are completely relaxed, the desired effect will be elusive. If there is an injured joint (spinal joint for example) the body will actively engage its muscles to protect or shield that joint from further injury. As a direct result of this protective reflex, the joints that need the most movement get little to none. Furthermore, the muscle spasm around that injured joint is amplified. This amplification consequently constricts the blood supply further, allowing for no separation of the spinal joints, no reduction of pressure on the spinal nerve roots and potentially an aggravation of symptoms.


For most “healthy” people, inversion therapy poses few threats. Inversion therapy is not without complications however, and is not recommended for use by people who have had recent back surgery. Individuals with herniated or bulging discs, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, muscle spasms, as well as ankle, knee or hip issues should ultimately avoid inversion therapy. Any other medical condition that may be provoked by an elevation of blood pressure, intracranial pressure or the mechanical stress of the inverted position should be considered a contraindication to inversion therapy. Below is a comprehensive list of contraindications to inversion therapy.

Acute Infections (joint, sinus, ear, eye) Hernias (Hiatal, Ventral)
Anti-Coagulant Use (asprin, warfarin) High Blood Pressure (>140/90mmHg)
Aneurysm (cerebral, abdominal, etc.) Inner Ear Disorders
Artificial Prostheses (knee, hip, etc.) Motion Sickness
Cardiovascular Insufficiencies in Limbs Obesity (>300lbs.) (machine dependent)
Cerebral Sclerosis Osteoporosis
Circulation Disorders Poor Coordination
Congestive Heart Failure Pregnancy
Conjunctivitis (Pink eye) Recent Trauma and/or Operations
Detached Retina Skeletal Implants (neck, back & joints)
Dizziness Spinal Injury (acute or chronic)
Fainting Spells (history of) Stroke (history of)
Glaucoma Swollen or Damaged Joints or Ligaments
Head Injury (history of) Transient Ischemic Attack (history of)
Heart Disorders Unhealed Fractures

What is the “take home” message on Inversion Therapy?

Inversion is a relatively simple, cost-effective treatment that does not require highly expensive equipment or lengthy training. Inversion therapy can “theoretically” result in a reduction of pain, realignment of the vertebrae, relaxation of the muscles and reduction of recovery time.  However, it’s important to remember that inversion therapy has its limitations and is not for everyone.

In my opinion, inversion therapy can be beneficial for individuals in the “maintenance” phase of their spinal health program. These are individuals who are healthy, active, have no contraindications and are under regular chiropractic care (ensuring proper spinal alignment).

Patients who present with conditions such as herniated or bulging discs, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or muscle spasms need to have those issues addressed prior to any sort of inversion therapy.  In contrast, spinal decompression therapy is very effective in the treatment of these conditions.  By utilizing a very precise pull and release cycle, spinal decompression therapy is able to relieve pressure from spinal nerves and stimulate disc rejuvenation while the muscles are completely relaxed.

A safer alternative to inversion therapy for those individuals who want to “help themselves” by working at home is the use of spinal foams (spinal orthotics). These specialized foams, prescribed by your chiropractor, assist the body to regain its proper structure.  A spinal health routine that includes spinal decompression therapy, in conjunction with spinal alignment therapy and spinal foams, will have you well on your way to an active and healthy lifestyle.

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Elevate Your Energy

Our Backfit team recently returned from a chiropractic conference in Seattle.  2 full days, 22 speakers, and hundreds of like-minded people, all passionate about serving our patients and communities at a higher level.  The team emerged from that experience fired up and inspired!

Think back to the last time you had an elevating experience.  Were you attending a seminar or spending a weekend surrounded with good friends who fill your soul?  Think about how energized and alive you felt.  Would you like to feel that way more often?  What if I told you that this kind of energy is vital to your health and wellbeing?

There is an emerging science called epigenetics that demonstrates the effect that our environment has on the expression of our genes, and ultimately the state of our health.  Epigenetics shows that genes can be up-regulated or down-regulated (turned “on” or “off”) based on our environment.  (Stay with me here!)

Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of “The Biology of Belief”, describes our DNA as a blueprint, and explains that there are over 30,000 different variations that can emerge from that blueprint depending on the demands of our environment.  And more powerful than the environment itself, is our perception of it.  It’s the thoughts, emotions and energy that we manifest in our bodies that create our reality. 

I know for some people this may seem an abstract concept to grasp, but the implications of it are incredibly important to your health!

The popular professional networking site, LinkedIn, recently posted a series in which LinkedIn Influencers pick one big idea that will shape 2014. Deepak Chopra, MD, who is at the forefront of the health and wellness revolution, selected epigenetics.  In his article, “You Will Transform Your Own Biology”, Dr. Chopra writes “The mind and emotions directly affect gene activity, and since the mind is the source of a person’s lifestyle and behavior, it directs one’s biological transformations.” 

Consider this example from Dr. James Chestnut’s book “The Innate State of Mind and Emotional Hygiene”:

“At Harvard University, women in mind-body support groups for infertility conceive 44% of the time (as opposed to the expected 8-10% rate) and 80% of men with hypertension in mind-body groups are able to decrease their medication, while 16% are able to stop their antihypertensive medication entirely.”

So how does this actually impact you and your health?  Well – it boils down to this.  Our health is really a genetic expression of our lifestyle choices.  It’s our lifestyle choices that create our environment.  Our commitment to good nutrition, exercise and rest are the things that commonly come to mind when we think about a healthy lifestyle.  What I want to express here is this:  Your emotional energy plays a vital role in your health. If you’re really serious about optimizing your health, then just like eating well and exercising, elevating your emotional energy must become a daily practice. 

We have to be very intentional about our energy and the energy of those we surround ourselves with.

At Backfit, we have this quote posted in our staff area as a valuable reminder:

Energy quote

But how do we create this kind of elevated energy in our daily lives?  Just like all of you, I have days when I’m feeling stuck, stressed or overwhelmed.  So here is the “go to” practice in our family!

4 keys to elevating your emotional health:

  1. Practice gratitude. Whether you keep a gratitude journal (Yes, even our kids have one!) or ground yourself in yoga or meditation, this is a powerful way to trigger almost immediate changes in your physiology.  True story.
  2. Connect with nature. Walk through the forest or sit and watch the waves.  Being in nature reduces anger, fear and stress and increases positive emotions.
  3. Get physical. Jump on your bike or go for a run.  We all know the positive impact that those amazing endorphins have.
  4. Make a contribution. Coach a team, host a fundraiser, or practice random acts of kindness.  Helping others elevates your happiness.  It’s as simple as that.


These are ideal ways to create an energy shift when you need it.  But here’s my challenge to you: Practice at least two of these on a daily basis.  Remember, what you do on a daily basis has far more impact on your life than what you do once in a while.

In the words of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: “We have the power to choose, moment by moment, who we are and how we want to show up.”

What choice will you make today?

Dr. Marissa Bentham & the Backfit Team

P.S.  If you are interested in exploring this topic further, here are some fabulous links:

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Mark Your Calendars!

backfit-slider(52)We are THRILLED to announce the 1st ever Backfit community health event… LIFE Fair!  (By the way, LIFE stands for… Live Inspired, Free, and Empowered!  Don’t you love it?)  Mark your calendars for Sunday, September 28th, 2014.

It has always been the vision of our team to make a tangible shift in the health of our community.  We are so proud of our dedicated team members for embracing the vision and creating this exciting event!  We are bringing together some of the finest WELLNESS-BASED local businesses to join with us in promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.  Come out and discover new tools and resources to help you live your best life!  Remember – when we are living at our optimum, it makes a positive impact on everyone around us!

Want the details?

When?    Sunday September 28th from 11 am to 4 pm.

Where?   The fair will be in Backfit’s office and parking lot.

What exciting events are planned?    Not only will there be multiple health and wellness vendors, but also interactive lectures, classes, bootcamps and prizes!  Enjoy dunking your Doctor at the dunk tank, eating healthy Red Barn bbq burgers, and fun inflatables for your children!

Check out your Backfit Doctors’ informative talks:

11-11:30am Dr. Bartlett Stretch Therapy (Low-back focused)
12-12:30pm Dr. Doyle Posture (Posture, ergonomics, and lifting)
1- 1:30pm Dr. Bentham Nutrition


Interactive classes by wellness-based local businesses:

12-12:30pm Storyoga For kids aged 3-5; playful mix of stories, songs, yoga, games, relaxation, and breathing
1-1:45pm Inner Warriors Yoga Therapeutic spinal care yoga class
2-2:30pm BDHQ (Body Dynamics) Full body interval training workout, for all fitness levels using nothing but your body weight. Learn proper form and how to engage your core for optimal spinal health.
3-3:45pm Inner Warriors Yoga Therapeutic spinal care yoga class


Space is limited, so if you want to attend a lecture or class, please contact the office.  Spaces are already filling up fast!

Please note: Classes are free, but donations to Victoria Brain Injury Society are more than gladly accepted!

Get interactive with these local organizations at the L.I.F.E. Fair:

BDHQ (Body Dynamics)

Red Barn Market


Inner Warriors Yoga

NexGen Hearing

Peninsula Co-op

Victoria Brain Injury Society

Peggy Folkes (RN/Counsellor)

Art of Living

Smart Klean Laundry Ball

Life Languages (KLLP)

Need Pain Relief


107.3 Kool fm

Laura McCorkell (Doula)

Thank you to our amazing Backfit team members for your dedication to making this event happen!  And especially to Candace Muir, whose vision and commitment has been the driving force for the LIFE Fair!

We can’t wait to see you all there as we celebrate the art of healthy living and our fantastic community!

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Pam’s Incredible Story!


We want to share with you just one of the amazing transformations that we have witnessed this year at Backfit.

Pam Morrison came to us in incredible pain, and with little hope of recovery.  Today, she is back to the active lifestyle she loves.  Please take a moment to watch Pam share her success story here: Pam’s Incredible Story.  It is truly inspiring!

Those closest to Pam have noticed the dramatic changes in her.  Pam’s daughter, Dr. Sandra Morrison, MD, felt compelled to send this email to express her gratitude!

Hi Dr. Bartlett,

I just wanted to contact you to THANK YOU for all you have done and are continuing to do for my mom, Pam Morrison. I was blown away by the x-rays she e-mailed to me today. I have never seen a spondylolisthesis corrected like this! 

She is so dedicated to her rehab. and, with your help, is becoming the active person she was a decade ago. As you know, she is back on her bike, and has ventured back into the ocean kayaking she loved so much. It is so fantastic for the family to see the enjoyment she is getting out of life again, and with far less pain. Your facility is really special – the attitudes of the docs and staff are great – one can’t help but be inspired to wellness. I only wish we had Backfit in Calgary – I know so many people (including myself) who could benefit from your expertise.

With gratitude,

Sandra Morrison


Sandra L. Morrison BSc BSc MD CCFP FCFP

Clinical Associate Professor

Faculty of Medicine

University of Calgary

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