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:
*lumbar (low back)
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 organs. How 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:
Do some yoga or stretching to increase flexibility.
Drink alkaline water to decrease inflammation.
Get your spine moving with a form of exercisethat you enjoy!
Don’t sit for longer than 20 mins at a time.
Pull out those spinal molding foams to reset your posture after computer work.
HIS MESSAGE: GET Healthy, STAY Healthy! So you KEEP doing what you LOVE doing! This is the phrase at the core of Dr. Craig Bentham’s approach to practice.
HIS STORY: For over 24 years, Dr. Craig Bentham has been successfully helping his patients return to pain-free living and optimal function. Born and raised in Victoria BC, Dr. Bentham studied biology and kinesiology at the University of Victoria. He then moved on to Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, California, where he completed his degree as a Doctor of Chiropractic in 1999. During his time in California, Dr. Craig spent countless hours honing his craft by training in leading-edge adjustment techniques, functional nutrition, sports therapy and meditation. Dr. Bentham worked with renowned health leaders throughout California, refining his skills, before opening his own clinic in the San Francisco bay area. Dr. Craig was known for his many speaking engagements on optimizing health and performance, as well as becoming the founder of the On Purpose club at Palmer West College, which provided students the skillset to become better doctors through a stronger understanding of the nervous sytem. It was at this time he met and married his partner in life, Dr. Marissa Bentham. Together, as part of the ownership team of Backfit Victoria, they passionately serve their community in achieving pain-free, high-functioning lives!
HIS INJURY: It was a very personal experience that led Dr. Craig to pursue a career in chiropractic. During a summer of tree planting in 1995, Dr. Craig suffered an acute and debilitating injury to his lower back. After experiencing excruciating sciatica for many months and trying many different types of medical therapy, it was a chiropractor that eventually helped him to recover and avoid surgery. This chiropractor became a mentor to him, teaching him foundational principles about the nature of healing. This life-changing experience gave Dr. Craig the foresight to shift his career path from medicine to chiropractic.
HIS LIFE: Dr. Craig is passionate about living life FIT, to the fullest and inspiring others to do the same. The ocean is his favorite place to recalibrate, and he can often be found surfing, sailing, cruising or fishing. Vancouver Island is truly home to him, and he also loves mountain biking, snowboarding and more recently is working on his golf game.
HIS GOAL: Dr. Craig’s personal goal is to surf on his 80th birthday with his wife and their two children, Caleb and Summer!
Dr. Marissa Bentham
Dr. Marissa Bentham graduated Magna Cum Laude and Valedictorian from Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, California in 2001. Upon graduation, Dr. Marissa was also presented with the Clinical Excellence Award and named to the Pi Tao Delta Chiropractic Honours Society. In her final year at Palmer College, Dr. Marissa was named to the “Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities” which recognizes students for their leadership ability in the areas of scholastic aptitude, community service and extracurricular activities.
During her time at chiropractic college, Dr. Marissa was honoured to be a member of the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush, one of the premier dance teams in the NFL. She was able to perform not only at the 49ers home games, but at many special events throughout North America and Europe.
Prior to entering Palmer College, Dr. Marissa studied biology at Simon Fraser University. But her journey to becoming a chiropractor and her passion for wellness began in early childhood.
“My road to becoming a chiropractor began with my childhood experience of watching my Mom battle with Multiple Sclerosis. I recognized from a very young age just how precious and valuable our health is. It is the foundation of everything else that we do. As a teenager I began exploring these questions... "What does it mean to be healthy?" "How do we know when we're healthy?" " What are the things we need to pay attention to, so that we may stay well throughout our lives?”
I love how chiropractic examines the relationship between the structure and the function of the body and that it works to restore balance and promote the body’s innate healing potential. I have been practicing for 22 years and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to connect with patients on their healing journey. It has been a rewarding experience to do the work I love.”
Dr. Marissa is especially passionate about role that our thoughts and emotions play in our physical health and loves to promote all things “Mindfit”. She believes strongly in the power of daily health practices like meditation and spending time in nature. Dr. Marissa is also the cohost of the podcast “Life Conversations” which reflects on wellbeing, relationships and meaningful work. Dr. Marissa loves Vancouver Island and embraces the opportunity for outdoor adventures with her family. You can often find her on the water or hiking and running trails. A dedicated hockey mom, Dr. Marissa loves cheering on her kids, Caleb and Summer.
Dr. Jeff Bartlett
My personal story: I’m proud to say that I married my hometown sweetheart, Tammy Bartlett. We both grew up in Campbell River, BC. I completed my undergraduate program in Kinesiology and Human Biomechanics at Simon Fraser University (SFU), where I played for the SFU varsity soccer team. Tammy and I then moved south to San Jose, California, where I pursued a doctorate in Chiropractic.
After I graduated from chiropractic college in 2002 (Cum Laude), our passion for health & fitness was strong, and we decided to open three successful fitness centres and a health food store in the Bay Area of California. We joined forces with our good friends and business partners, Drs. Craig and Marissa Bentham.
Reminiscing, outside of our business accomplishments, one of my fondest memories in California was proposing on the field to Tammy (who was 49ers cheerleader), at the third quarter of the San Francisco 49ers versus Seattle Seahawks game.
Even with all the excitement and opportunities that California had to offer us, we missed Vancouver Island. We missed our families. We missed our roots. So, in 2005, we decided to sell everything. We packed up our belongings and moved back to the Vancouver Island to start a family.
Fast-forward, we are now a party of five, plus two dogs, one cat, 30 chickens, and 3 ducks.
What do I believe in? I believe we need to take responsibility for our own health. “Health is a matter of choice, not a mystery of chance.”-Aristotle. I also believe that chiropractic has much to offer, but with a kinesiology background, and the experience of co-owning three fitness centres, I feel active rehabilitation, in conjunction with treatment, is a must.
Over the past 20 years, I have established one simple rule, one mantra, that has helped shape my decision-making and guide me as a practitioner. Moreover, with every interaction I have with a patient, decision I need to make, or recommendation I need to give, I ask myself - What would I want/need/hope for, if I was in their shoes?
This is what I would want, for myself, if I were the patient:
For the doctor to listen first, talk second.
A thorough examination, thorough observation, and thorough testing.
I would like to understand my problem.
I would like to take an active role in my care.
I would appreciate a clinic that strives for innovation.
Dr. Ryan Doyle
Dr. Ryan Doyle graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon in 2000, after receiving degrees in both Psychology and Health Sciences from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
During an extensive athletic career in his youth (Junior A hockey, baseball, soccer, rugby), Dr. Doyle suffered multiple injuries which eventually led to his study of human performance and function. This further led him to specialize in chiropractic, as well as Pettibon spinal biomechanics, which he has taught to other doctors and therapists for over a decade across the globe.
As sports brought further injuries to his spine and nervous system and life became more “full”: kids, business, fulfillment and relationships, Dr. Doyle experienced firsthand the importance of living a habit-based lifestyle. He also felt the call to assist other healthcare professionals in transforming their lives from reactionary/survival living by following these principles. He now splits his time working with patients who wish to live as active and fulfilled as possible, and working with high performance professionals in an online coaching program called the “FR33DOM Formula Challenge” with his coaching company, Men of Iron Formula Inc.
Building on his passion for high performance, function, freedom, teaching and results, Dr. Doyle is passionate about helping active people function at their highest levels for as long as humanly possible. The balance of activity, spinal function, fueling the body and the psychology of performance, blended with family and fulfillment is where you will see Dr. Doyle invest his time and energy, whether it is in the office, teaching across the globe, in the hockey rink or out on the golf course.
Dr. Megan Yim
After graduating with honours from Vancouver Island University with a B.A. in Psychology, Dr. Megan Yim continued her education at the University of Victoria where she earned her Masters of Science in Experimental Neuropsychology. Once she completed her Masters, Dr. Megan began working as a Chiropractic Assistant. Her time working at Backfit ignited her passion for helping people achieve their health and wellness potential. She decided to attend the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, graduating as a Doctor of Chiropractic in 2019. Once she graduated, she returned to Backfit to join our talented team of chiropractors, meaning she has been a part of the Backfit team for over ten years!
Dr. Yim’s strong passion for sport and fitness also led her to earn certifications in Athletic Movement Assessment, Functional Range Release, Functional Range Conditioning, and several other chiropractic technique protocols. To treat her patients, she utilizes a wide variety of techniques including spinal and extremity manipulation and mobilization, functional range release and active rehab. She is also the only doctor at Backfit currently offering Shockwave Therapy to treat a wide range of chronic conditions. Dr. Megan’s passion is to treat and prevent injuries to optimize movement for sport and all activities of daily living.
Dr. Megan is a former varsity badminton player (yes, really!) and is currently an avid squash enthusiast. Sport involvement has led to a keen interest in sports-related rehabilitation and injury prevention. This has strongly influenced her approach to manual therapy combined with exercise. Dr. Megan loves movement and getting outside in nature whether it’s camping, hiking, paddle boarding, or rock climbing. Fun fact: Dr. Megan has her own YouTube channel, where you can find tons of helpful exercise videos that can enhance your treatment results!
Dr. Matthew Bryan graduated Cum Laude from Macquarie University, in Sydney Australia in 2020. Upon acceptance, Dr. Bryan was awarded the Vice-Chancellor International Scholarship; an award that is given to the top 1% of incoming International Students. Dr. Bryan was also recognized as the top clinical technique graduate - an award voted on by his peers and professors as the clinician most proficient in chiropractic technique.
During his time in Australia, Dr. Bryan was fortunate to be selected as one of the team chiropractors for the Central Coast Mariners - a professional soccer team in Australia and attained his diploma of football medicine from FIFA. He was also a part of the medical team for the Avoca Beach Sharks - an Elite Rugby Union club in Australia. Although Dr. Bryan has a passion for working with athletes, his professional experience in Australia includes working in a family-based practice, becoming familiar with pediatric care, as well as pregnant patients, and working under one of the top low-force technique Chiropractors in Australia.
Prior to studying at Macquarie University, Dr. Bryan attended McPherson College in Kansas, USA, on a baseball scholarship and was appointed as team captain in both 2015 and 2016. McPherson College competes in the Kansas Collegiate athletic Conference of the NAIA - known to be one of the strongest conferences in the country. During the summers back home, Dr. Bryan also played outfield for the local elite summer baseball team - The Victoria Harbourcats of the WCL.
“My chiropractic journey began when I was in university and had a significant arm injury. I was receiving treatment from many different health providers, but the same pain kept coming back. It was by chance that a close friend recommended their chiropractor, and they noticed that the arm pain was not related to my arm, but instead my spine. Within weeks I was back on the field playing without pain. After my playing career, this inspired me to help others in the same way chiropractic had helped me.”
“I’m fascinated by what our bodies are capable of when operating at our full potential. Helping people get back to doing the things they love is something that I never take for granted, and I’m incredibly excited to help make a difference at Backfit Clinic.”
Dr. Bryan is especially passionate about travelling and giving back to others, having travelled to 23+ countries so far. His most rewarding experience thus far,which has given him a humbled perspective on life, was being able to volunteer at and donate to a school in Nairobi, Kenya. Dr. Bryan knows how impactful nutrition and physical activity is on our overall health and loves everything about the nature BC has to offer. Growing up a local Victoria boy, Dr. Bryan has returned home to Canada to be close to his supportive family and friends, as well as help serve the community that gave so much to him!
Dr. Jordan Morton
Dr. Jordan Morton found his way into Naturopathic Medicine after growing up with a passion for using his body in sports, combined with a deep curiosity for how the body works. After graduating from the University of Victoria with a biology degree and minor in hispanic studies, he took some time off before deciding what to do next. In that time, he completed his yoga teacher training and was hired at Backfit where he worked as a decompression technician and spinal technician for Dr. Doyle. His time at Backfit made a huge impact on his appreciation for musculoskeletal medicine and patients dealing with chronic pain.
While chiropractic would have been a great choice for further education, naturopathic medicine contained such a wide range of tools to use for helping people, that was ultimately his choice. So after a year and a half working alongside the Backfit team, he was off to the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine.
While at Boucher, Dr. Morton helped establish a yoga club to help stressed out students, participated in the student association, and was student representative for the provincial association (BCNA). Upon graduation, Dr. Morton won the Dr. Nicole Robinson Memorial Scholarship, as well as the Spirit of Boucher award.
Since beginning his career at Backfit, Dr. Morton has done extensive training for regenerative injections, including a year-long prolotherapy mentorship with Dr. Tyna Moore, DC, ND from Oregon. He also completed a year-long ultrasound mentorship program with Dr. Frank Johnson, MD and Sports Medicine Ultrasound Canada.
Outside of his time in the clinic, Dr. Morton keeps busy training for ultramarathons, cooking delicious vegan meals, playing hockey, hiking and trying to squeeze in a round of golf now and then! He and his wife, Kait, are expecting their first child!
Dr. Andrea Whalen
Dr. Andrea Whelan, ND is a graduate of the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (2015) and holds a Bachelor of Biological Sciences from the University of Calgary.
Dr. Andrea is known for her warm and inquisitive nature, and ability to provide compassionate and comprehensive care to anyone who walks through her door. She has been practicing in Victoria since 2016 and in that time has developed a keen interest and skillset in treating digestive issues and stress related symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, and burnout. She believes that how we think, how we feel and how we regulate ourselves can have a huge impact on our health. Dr. Andrea also views nutrition and digestion as critical components of health and by supporting these, along with the nervous system, her approach helps to improve the quality of life for many of her patients, no matter how simple or complex their issues are. Overall, she's passionate about helping her patients build resilience by uncovering and removing physical and mental/emotional stressors.
Dr. Andrea uses her patients’ symptoms, history and test results to connect the dots and guide an effective treatment plan that is geared towards her patients’ unique needs and desires. She uses a combination of counseling/emotional freedom technique (EFT), nutritional injection therapies, targeted supplementation, and diet and lifestyle advice that is intentionally chosen to address physiological imbalances and the root cause(s) of symptoms. Dr. Andrea also has advanced training in intravenous (IV) nutritional therapies and often incorporates it into her treatment plans as a jumpstart to health, especially in cases where there is insufficient nutritional intake, chronic digestive issues, and nutritional deficiencies from periods of increased stress on the body (ie. Illness, surgery, injury, etc). The high dose nutrients used in IV therapy can improve energy, mood and sleep, reduce pain and feelings of stress/overwhelm, improve physical and mental endurance and help support a strong immune system (preventively or as treatment for infections).
Outside of practice, Dr. Andrea loves outdoor adventures with her family, biking or rollerblading around town with her son in tow, sharing good conversation and laughs with friends, and her morning cup of coffee.
Dr. Orser’s path to becoming a naturopathic doctor began at the University of Victoria where he completed a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Biology. After this, he completed a degree in naturopathic medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine to finally become a naturopathic doctor (ND) in 2019.
Professionally, he is a positive and caring individual whose goals are to reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent recurrent injuries so that people can enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle. As an ND, treating the root cause of pain is critically important in achieving long term healing. This is done by taking the time to ask detailed questions, listening to patients during a thorough consultation, performing physical examinations and laboratory testing and/or imaging to assess his patients as a whole. Much of the time, treating chronic injuries requires creating an environment within the body that promotes healing as a whole. He is trained to perform a variety of injection therapies, acupuncture, and soft tissue mobilization which provide the basis for his physical interventions. He also understands the important role our mental and emotional wellbeing plays in our physical health which is often addressed through empathetic counselling.
On a personal note, Dr. Orser is an energetic and active person who enjoys physical activity of any kind. During his time at the University of Victoria, he played for the varsity hockey team. Hockey still remains a passion for him. He also enjoys volleyball, tennis, golf, and snowboarding. Overall, Dr. Orser feels grateful to live and practice in a city like Victoria which has an abundance of beautiful hikes, lakes, and beaches to explore. His passion for healing chronic pain stems from wanting his patients to be able to engage in activities that bring them joy without compromise.
Dr. Whitney Baxter is a naturopathic doctor with a clinical focus in digestive health.
She takes people from feeling limited by their bloating and IBS to feeling confident in their body and in control of their digestion. Her goal is to figure out the root cause of her patients’ concerns so they can stop guessing, feeling surprised or frustrated by their symptoms.
Her journey to naturopathic medicine began after working as an exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation. She witnessed the value of a holistic approach to healthcare and understood that each individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health are interconnected. As a naturopathic doctor, she listens to your story in order to create a strategy that achieves sustainable results.
Other Areas of Interest:
Finding the cause and reducing symptoms of PMS, painful cramping and cyclical mood changes
Supporting people through perimenopause and menopause with hormone replacement therapy and evidence-based nutraceutical support
Chronic disease prevention and management (including cardiovascular disease and autoimmune conditions)
Dr. Baxter Holds the Following Certifications
Certified Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. This allows her to provide evidence-based exercise guidelines for those with chronic disease (cardiovascular, respiratory, cancer and more)
"I understand that health is so personal and we can achieve anything when we feel heard, empowered and understand our treatment options. I look forward to meeting you!”
When not at the clinic she is usually outside running, climbing or sipping great coffee. She lives with her daughter and partner who make her giggle all day long!