Why Decompression?

I just returned from an engaging seminar in Johnstown, Pennsylvania where I had the chance to collaborate with doctors who are on the forefront of advancements in spinal decompression therapy. The experience definitely affirmed the results I witness every day in the Backfit Clinic, and inspired me to share some of the highlights with you. Here is a deeper look at HOW spinal decompression therapy works, and WHY it might be the right choice for you!

How Does Spinal Decompression Therapy Work?

Nonsurgical spinal decompression is a type of motorized traction. Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine and taking pressure off the spinal discs, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine.

When traditional traction is applied, the body’s natural reaction is to resist the traction by pulling in the opposite direction. BUT – through a specific computerized pull and release pattern, spinal decompression is able to bypass the typical response of ligaments and muscles to distraction (ie – prevent the body from resisting the traction force!). This pull and release pattern allows for water and nutrients to be delivered to the disc and enhance the body’s natural healing process.

Why Is This Important?

After puberty spinal discs become avascular, meaning that they no longer have a direct blood supply. This lack of blood supply dictates that discs naturally heal at a very slow rate. Current research states that a disc injury typically heals in 300-500 days without any treatment. Spinal decompression therapy can be used to speed healing of the disc by up to 71% and heal that disc in less than 100 days.

A study by the Department of Neurosurgery and Radiology, Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Health Sciences Center, University of Texas, demonstrates what makes decompression so effective.  We could get deep into the scientific process and terminology here, but I’d rather give it to you in simplified terms.

  • Spinal decompression therapy creates a “negative pressure” within the discs
  • This “negative pressure” promotes the movement of water and nutrients into the disc as well as the removal of waste products
  • This nourishment & rehydration of the disc promotes healing – simple as that!

Who Needs Spinal Decompression Therapy?

Disc decompression therapy is a non-surgical treatment for spinal injuries and spinal pain. Spinal decompression has the capability of relieving pressure on the spinal nerves and has been proven to effectively relieve the pain associated with:

  • Acute / chronic back or neck pain (compression symptoms)
  • Sciatica (pain, weakness, or tingling that extends down the leg)
  • Herniated discs (Extrusions, Protrusions, Bulges etc.)
  • Degenerative discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Posterior facet syndrome (worn spinal joints)
  • Headaches

Decomp TeamAt Backfit, spinal decompression therapy is a key component of a comprehensive treatment program.  And one that I feel incredibly passionate about!  Our Backfit decompression team is committed to helping you achieve the best results possible!

Dr . Greg Eisert and the Backfit Team

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What’s the Connection?

Doyle FamilyI have developed an array of spinal injuries and conditions in my athletic career.  These experiences have ultimately led me to my purpose in life: teaching others how to restore health and function to the spine.  When I was in my early 30’s, I had a CT scan for a rib injury that I suffered while playing hockey.  Surprisingly, the scan also showed that I had a disc injury.  I had NO PAIN. I had NO SYMPTOMS.  At least that’s what I thought.  I had been experiencing digestive issues for months and had tried a number of different diets, and had even considered some pharmaceuticals which were commonly prescribed.  As an experiment, I decompressed my lower back extensively for 3 months and the symptoms resolved.  Who would have thought that my stomach issues could be connected to my back?

In chiropractic, we teach the connection between the nerves in your spine and your overall health.  Without a healthy nervous system, it is impossible for your body to function optimally.  Yet we are trained to believe that nothing is wrong unless we feel pain.  And then we use a lotion, potion or pill to cover up the symptoms rather than correct the underlying cause.  Quite simply, this approach to health doesn’t work.

This is why Chiropractic care is not JUST for pain.

Autonomic NSparts of the nerve:


1.  Sensory

  • If a sensory nerve is irritated or compressed enough, it can elicit PAIN.  It may also create tingling, burning, or aching.

2.  Autonomic

  • The part of the nervous system that controls visceral functions (organ function), including heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, salivation, perspiration, pupillary dilation, micturition (urination), sexual arousal, breathing and swallowing.
  • If this system is damaged or dampened, the overall health effects may be subtle or significant, but you will not experience pain.

3.  Motor

  • The nerves that carry signals from the spinal cord to the muscles to produce (effect) movement.
  • If these nerves are compressed, irritated or damaged they can cause muscles to atrophy (stop working and wither away), muscle spasms, or cause a stiffness or “tight” feeling in the muscles of our spine and even in our shoulders, arms, legs and pelvis.

Compromised nerve function in your NECK can contribute to:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Allergies
  • Shoulder issues
  • Heart conditions
  • Lung and breathing issues

Compromised nerve function in your MID BACK can contribute to:

  • Shoulder issues
  • Mid back issues
  • Heart conditions
  • Digestive issues
  • Heart burn
  • Kidney conditions

Compromised nerve function in your LOW BACK can contribute to:

  • Constipation
  • Sterility
  • Menstrual problems
  • Sciatica
  • Low back pain
  • Leg swelling and cramps

DID YOU KNOW?  Studies show that pressure equivalent to the weight of a quarter can reduce nerve function by up to 60%?

Are your spine and nervous system functioning at an optimum level?

Dr. Ryan Doyle and the Backfit Team

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Do Kids Really Need Adjustments?

photoOur son, Caleb, just turned 9 a few days ago.  As cliché as it sounds, I can’t believe how quickly those 9 years have gone!  He is a bright and caring boy, with quite a sense of humour.  And he LOVES to play sports!  At the moment, it is lacrosse season, and wow – is it ever a physical game!  Last night we were driving home after a particularly competitive game, when Caleb said to me – “Mom, I am sure glad that you and Dad are chiropractors.  I definitely need to get my spine checked after that game.  Actually, the whole team should!” (He gets it!  Proud moment for me.)

Did Caleb make this statement because he has back or neck pain?  Do kids only need to get a spinal check-up if they have symptoms?  The answer is – most definitely – no.  Caleb has been under chiropractic care his entire life and understands the importance of a healthy spine and nervous system.  He also understands that in a child’s life there are daily slips, trips, and falls that can cause the spine to shift out of proper alignment.

Caleb often recalls the time that he got adjusted after a hockey game because one leg was nearly an inch shorter than the other! (This was due to a misaligned pelvis.)  What do you think the outcome would be if we had never checked him or adjusted the misalignment in his pelvis?  How would that impact the health of his spine five years down the road?  Even small misalignments can cause far more pronounced problems in children as their spine grows and develops.  And think about those delicate nerves that are carrying vital message to every muscle, organ and gland in that growing body. How important is it to ensure there are no spinal misalignments creating pressure on those nerves?

So do we only need to worry about the kids who are playing contact sports?  How else can misalignments happen?  See the pressure on a baby’s head and neck during the birthing process.  Watch a toddler learning to walk.  Think of your child at her very first skating lesson.  Stand at the school playground and observe the little boy who falls from the monkey bars or the girl who trips on the soccer field.  Pay attention to the posture of your child or teen at their school desk or on their iphone… Isn’t it time they had a spinal check-up?  Caleb sure thinks it is.

Dr. Marissa Bentham & the Backfit Team

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Artificial Sweeteners: The Ugly Truth

North Americans are increasing their consumption of artificial sweeteners at an alarming rate. They are now a $1.5-billion market and are becoming massively prevalent in our food supply.  Artificial sweeteners are assumed to be the perfect solution to satisfy our sweet tooth with little-to-no caloric aftermath. Yet, we are continuing to pack on the pounds, as now over 69 percent of North Americans are classified as overweight. Coincidence?

Overwhelming evidence shows that artificial sweeteners actually promote weight gain, and are linked to a higher risk of diabetes, headaches, vision problems, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Artificial sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit our tolerance for more complex tastes. What does this mean? People who routinely use artificial sweeteners may start to find less intensely sweet foods (such as fruit) less appealing and unsweet foods (such as vegetables) downright unpalatable. As a result, the use of artificial sweeteners can make you shun highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value (like processed foods).

Many of the patients I have worked with to improve their overall health have found significant benefit in giving up these chemicals completely. Nearly all of these patients have lost weight in the weeks following the change, in addition to noticing improvements with symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations, and insomnia.

Artificial sweeteners

If my personal beliefs and clinical experience are not enough to sway you, take these recent studies on the topic into consideration:

  1. Doctors compared two groups of rats: One consuming yogurt sweetened with glucose and the other with artificial sweetener. The rats consuming the artificial sweetener were unable to regulate their intake, leading to greater weight gain and more body fat as they had a greater overall consumption of calories. It appears that by avoiding sugar and using the fake stuff, the body is not able to regulate hunger and appetite, which leads to increased consumption.
  2. Animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be addictive. In studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine and oral saccharine, most chose saccharin.
  3. In the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Aren’t these the diseases that artificial sweeteners may help prevent in the first place?

These studies speak volumes to me, but I am already a believer in the dangers of artificial sweeteners. If you’re still on the fence, do your own study. Write down your weight and any symptoms you currently experience. Give up all artificial sweeteners (saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose) completely for two full weeks, drinking water or fresh brewed, unsweetened tea instead. Document any changes or improvements you observe. I’m willing to bet the results will be… oh, so sweet!

Dr. Greg Eisert & the Backfit Team


  1. Swithers, S., Davidson, T. (2008). A Role for Sweet Taste: Calorie Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation by Rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol. 122, No. 1.
  2. PLOS One. 2007 Aug 1;2(8):e698. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH.
  3. Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Diabetes Care, April 2009, Vol. 32, No. 4, 688-694.

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Michelle Bids Farewell

Backfit’s General Manager, Michelle Lyons, will be saying goodbye.  Here are some reflections from Michelle as she begins a new chapter…

Almost six years ago I saw the opportunity to live out one of my dreams. I walked through the doors of Backfit and, as many people experience, I just knew there was something profound about this place. I also knew I had to be part of it. My dream was about creating an environment where people had the opportunity to embrace their health and unleash their potential. I felt the world needed a space that brought together the many facets that create healing and wellness. In my mind, I had named this place – “Collaborative Health” and that is exactly what I found at Backfit.

I have had the opportunity to be part of this team for nearly six years and now life has called me in a new direction. I will be returning to my home town of Calgary in May. I am excited to be closer to my family and friends, albeit nervous about the weather! As I prepare to move on to my next chapter, I find myself in a reflective state. I tried to think of how I could sum up my experience at Backfit. A few words pop through my mind in vibrant colours:

Life changing – Rewarding – Impactful

This is interesting to me because I have also heard our community of patients and team members use these words to describe their Backfit experience. I absolutely love the collaboration and passion that weaves through our education, coaching and treatments every day. This has been a-m-a-z-i-n-g – not just for me, but for so many of our community members!

In 2008 when I found myself agreeing to work behind a desk again, I have to be honest – I was afraid! In fact, it was something I swore I’d never do again. I am happy to say there has not been a day that I have regretted sitting in this chair behind the scenes. Being part of Backfit achieving its mission – having a small part in our patient’s stories, their healing and their commitment to health has been very meaningful for me.

It is with somewhat of a heavy heart that I move forward. I often tell people that my time at Backfit has grown me into a better Michelle. The team here has encouraged me to push my limits, step outside of my box, and have a greater purpose in this world. It is with much gratitude that I say farewell and wish you all a long and fulfilling health journey!

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7 Natural Solutions for Arthritis

You may think that arthritis is just a disease of the elderly.  Think again.  Studies show that arthritis can develop as early as young adulthood, and that rates are dramatically rising.  Read on to find out how you can prevent arthritis from holding you back!

Backfit patients, Paula Morewood and her late husband Harry, prove that an active lifestyle is possible at any age!

According to Arthritis Canada –

” 4.5 million, or one in six, Canadians aged 15 years and older report having arthritis.

“By 2031, the number of people with arthritis (i.e., both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis) in Canada will increase by 124%.”


From the US Center for Disease Control –

Currently an estimated 27 million U.S. adults suffer from osteoarthritis.”


Arthritis is more common in women than men, and can develop in young adulthood, although the risk is higher over the age of 45.  Simply stated, arthritis is the breakdown or degeneration of joint tissue that results in painful, swollen, and stiff joints.

Typically, arthritis is treated with drugs such as Vioxx and Celebrex, which work by lowering prostaglandin (mediators of inflammation) levels in the body.  However, Vioxx was removed from the market in 2004, after it was found to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The good news is that developing arthritis is NOT a necessary part of aging.  So what can we do to keep our joints healthy in a natural way?

7 Natural Arthritis Solutions:

  1. Lower sugar levels.  Elevated insulin levels are one of the major reasons that inflammatory prostaglandins are      produced.
  2. Start a high quality fish oil supplement, which will lower insulin levels in the blood.
  3. Supplement with Glucosamine Sulphate.  These supplements will help control further degeneration, as they provide your body with the natural building blocks that it needs to repair and rebuild damaged joint cartilage.
  4. Get moving.  The notion that exercise is detrimental to your joints is a misconception.  Evidence points to exercise (flexibility and strength) having a positive impact on joint tissues.
  5. Maintain an ideal weight.
  6. Boswellia: very effective in reducing pain and joint inflammation.  However, it’s not treating the cause, only the symptoms.
  7. Last but NOT LEAST – maintain good posture and body mechanics. One of the greatest factors to impact the progression of osteoarthritis is your biomechanics.

IMPORTANT NOTE – If a joint in your body is out of alignment due to poor posture, improper ergonomics, repetitive stress or injury, this will cause uneven stress on that joint.  Much like poor wheel alignment will cause uneven wear on your tires, the increased wear and tear on a misaligned joint will cause early damage and degeneration.  The best way to evaluate the alignment and biomechanics of your knees, hips, and spine is to see your chiropractor for a check-up!  In addition to adjustments of the misaligned joints, your chiropractor can provide ergonomic and postural recommendations or specific core stabilizing exercises to support proper joint function.

Dr. Craig Bentham & the Backfit team

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TLC For Your Spine

How do you know if your spine is healthy?  If you don’t have back pain, can you assume that you have a healthy back?

Did you know that many spinal health conditions and degenerative diseases can be pain-free?  These conditions begin to cause pain only once a significant amount of damage has already been done.  So, if we wait until there is pain, then we are already in trouble.

Not taking care of your spine until you have pain, is kind of like waiting until your teeth are decaying to start brushing them.  Can you imagine your dentist telling you to only brush the tooth that hurts? …Or not to worry about your teeth until you see obvious signs of decay?  Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that, just like our teeth, our spine needs to be taken care of every single day in order to prevent pain and maintain spinal health and function.

There are four areas of the spine that you should be familiar with:

Spinal cord and brain anatomy*cervical (neck)

*thoracic (mid-back)

*lumbar (low back)

*sacrum (tailbone)

Each of these areas house delicate nerves that travel to muscles, glands and specific organs. For example, nerves in the cervical and thoracic spine carry messages to the heart and lungs.  Nerves in the low back innervate the intestines and reproductive organsHow vital do you think it is to ensure that these nerves and the spinal joints that protect them are functioning optimally?

Just like seeing your dentist, evaluating the health of your spine and nerve system starts with a spinal exam.

Here are five things you can do today to give your spine some TLC:

  1. Do some yoga or stretching to increase flexibility.
  2. Drink alkaline water to decrease inflammation.
  3. Get your spine moving with a form of exercise that you enjoy!
  4. Don’t sit for longer than 20 mins at a time.
  5. Pull out those spinal molding foams to reset your posture after computer work.


Dr. Ryan Doyle & the Backfit Team


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My Struggle with Goals

My hubby and I have been diligent about goal setting for years…

Before having kids, we would head to a retreat-like setting every November for 2 or 3 days with our calendar, laptop, dry-erase board and loads of green juice.  Our excitement was palpable as we hammered out everything we wanted to achieve in the year ahead.

We had a great system down and it worked for us.  We were able to focus and accomplish some bold and meaningful goals.  We began offering goal-setting workshops at our office and coached others through the process of identifying goals – exploring areas such as health, relationships, career, and adventure.  We were making an impact!

A few years ago, something shifted in my relationship to goals.  Maybe it was becoming a mother, and the major “shake up” in priorities that comes along with having children, but the energy I brought to goal setting completely fizzled.  I started to feel like I was setting goals out of obligation, rather than inspiration.  I would look at the plan I had laid out and feel disconnected from it.  I began to question my need for striving and wondered if it made me less able to be present.  For a couple of years, I stopped setting goals all together.

Last year, something profound caught my attention – A concept called Desire Mapping  – which is the work of Danielle LaPorte.  It’s an incredible shift on goal setting and it resonates with where I am in my life right now.  The Desire Map is about identifying how you truly want to feel in your life as the guide for creating your goals.  Rather than striving toward something “out there”, get clear on your core desired feelings to shape your actions.

This past November, when Craig (AKA – Dr. B) and I sat down together, we started by doing some digging about how we really want to feel.

 What do I want to create more of in my life?  How do I want to feel on a daily basis?

desired feelings

Then I dug a little deeper and defined the meaning that these words hold for me.

Joyful: in the moment, engaged, grateful

Vibrant: full of health, life and energy

Creative: utilizing my unique gifts to add value to the world

Connected: making a contribution, having meaningful relationships, being present


Can you see the importance of clearly defining how you want to feel in order to create more meaningful and relevant goals?

One of my goals this year is to run a half marathon.  I have done this a few times before, but this year I am shifting my focus.  Because one of my desired feelings is to be connected – rather than tackle this on my own, I plan on training alongside a dear friend.  Investing time and energy into our relationship while we pursue this goal together will add the element of connection to my experience.

Core desired feelings are like a compass… guiding, shaping and inspiring our actions and rituals.  I have a renewed sense of excitement about the journey toward goals that align with my desired feelings.  It is, after all, in the journey that we discover more about who we are and who we want to be.

Do you regularly set goals, intentions or resolutions?  Can this concept bring new meaning to the way you look at goal setting?


Dr. Marissa Bentham & the Backfit Team


P.S.  At Backfit, we are putting these ideas into action with our “Great Exchange”.  It’s a very simple way to get in alignment and create some positive momentum.  Talk to one of our fantastic team members if you want to join us in making 2014 a year with more energy, clarity, and purpose!




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Meet Ayden John!

The Waiting Game

Three days after my wife’s due date, Ayden was still in no hurry to meet his parents.  He was carrying very high and had not “dropped” into the birth canal which would indicate he was not planning on coming out soon.

Although I was desperately looking forward to meeting my son or daughter, I had found it hard to grasp the concept that the bump in my wife’s stomach was actually going to become my baby. Through all the carpal tunnel discomfort, sickness in the early months, swollen ankles and relentless kicking, Jennifer had already formed a very close bond with our baby.  The idea of parenthood wasn’t yet as real for me.

After a cascade of events over the next several days (which included treatment for Jennifer’s high blood pressure, non-stress tests for baby and a labour induction treatment) Jennifer and I were left with a tough decision.

Following a lengthy discussion with each other, our maternity doctor, doula, and the obstetrician on call, we made the decision to pursue a caesarean section rather than trying another day or two of the induction process.

We Finally Meet Ayden!

Ayden John Eisert shot out into the delivery room – a whopping 8lbs 12oz – at 17:20 on Thursday, November 14th. To my immense relief (you can’t help worrying about this bit); he started to cry almost immediately. I had just watched our son emerge into the world – it was a fantastic, frightening, and exhilarating experience!

“It’s a boy! And he’s beautiful!”  I belted out to my dear wife who was unable to see the wonder which I was blessed to witness.

Proud Dad!Ayden



The hours after the birth were surreal…When I look at Ayden now the whole birth process seems totally remarkable and watching his mother with him is one of the most wonderful experiences in the world.

Dr. Greg Eisert

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