6 Tips: The right pack for your back.

Is your Facebook wall filled with photos of kids returning to school this week? It is just crazy how fast this summer flew by! There are certain things we can do to help our children (and ourselves) create healthy backpack habits that will stand for a lifetime.

Pressure status among kids is something we know is real. When dealing with backpack debacles – how we send our kids off to school at the start of the day, usually isn’t how they end up coming home.

Here are a few things that you can have some influence over though.

1. Purchasing the right backpack is important; the most properly fitting ones are usually smaller than you would think. The main problem here is the sheer volume of stuff your child is required to carry to-and-from school. Separating some items out of the backpack may be useful, like carrying a lunch box in your hands.

2. It is easier to buy a proper backpack when you bring your items into the store at the same time. For example, I would bring my: laptop, lunch bag, textbook and agenda, to see how it all fits. That Hershel backpack may be popular, but may not fit everything.

3. See pictures below for an example on size. The base of the backpack should not extend below the belt (normal belt placement) and the top of the shoulder strap should not gap above the shoulder when the base of the backpack is in the proper position.


  • No gap between strap and shoulder – bottom of bag at the belt level
  • Chest and hip strap helps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack
  • Heaviest and/or largest items should be closest to your back.
  • Smallest and/or lightest items can go furthest away from your back. If the backpack is filled with school supplies, you may want to carry the lunch bag separately to not overload it.

4. Reinforcing the proper carrying habits day in and day out helps; biomechanics are on your side. They’ll get used to it, and notice how much more comfortable it is.

5. You have some control in what goes into the pack to start each day. Buying a suitcase hanging scale will help you keep the proper bag-to-person ratio. The total weight should not be more than 20% of the student’s bodyweight!

6. Wide straps with chest and hip belts help distribute the weight of the backpack more evenly.

* Photos courtesy of my son Aaron. He’s modelling how to wear a backpack correctly (at least each morning when I’m around).

Bye for now,
Dr. Payne

It’s an adjustment, not a crack!

Words do matter. They help to define a culture. 

During every new patient orientation, I speak a little about how “it’s an adjustment, not a crack”. I think it helps people know that I’m not going to hurt any body parts. Absolutely nothing is being broken when you hear the crunching noise. I get it though – people are describing the sound they hear; one which Hollywood has always correlated with something bad happening. 

An adjustment is simply a fine-tuning of something towards its optimal function. The definition is: a small alteration or movement made to achieve a desired fit, appearance, or result. In the case of a spinal adjustment, we want the result to re-connect your brain-to-body function so all of your cells, organs, systems and tissues can operate to their highest potential.

I hope we can define a softer approach to chiropractic care here at AVANT. If you have any questions about chiropractic care, I’d be happy to chat more in depth anytime. Seriously! 

Stay awesome,

Dr. Payne, D.C. 

AVANT Chiropractic Case Study: Kate

Usually when someone celebrates a ‘workiversary’ it means they’ve been with a company for a certain number of years. For me, it’s also a chiropractic anniversary. Before showing up for my first day of work, Dr. Payne had said, “This might not mean anything to you right now, but it will eventually.”

I am an employee at AVANT Chiropractic, but every time I get onto an adjustment table, I am choosing to put my neck and spine in Dr. Payne’s hands. Trust is the biggest word I can use to describe my experience this past year; trusting his expertise and trusting that the process will work. Believe me, there were moments of doubt.

With no further ado, I’m going to guide you through my own personal case study. There are a collection of posture pictures, X-Rays, journal entries and thoughts.

JULY 2015
I had my first exam and went through the entire New Patient process, especially so I could learn the administrative steps involved. The strangest part was telling my new boss all of the things going on with my 1/4 century body. He just hired a physical train wreck. The list looked like this:

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I was asked what life would look like, if these symptoms went away. The answer? Getting back to my athletic self, because then everything else would fall back into place. All of these symptoms meant that I couldn’t do the activities that mattered most.

I wrote a journal entry one night when I couldn’t fall asleep and it was dated August 25, 2015 / 20 adjustments in.

“I want you to know I’ve felt nauseous, really nauseous, these past few months. I’m laying in bed on the brinks of tears, have succumbed to taking one Gravol and my neck is not comfortable whatsoever. There’s a point to this turmoil though. I signed up for it. No one said correcting a spine would be easy; the toxins that get released, the push-back your body wants to give (like taking braces off too soon), and the mental game it plays on whether Dr. Payne’s calculated adjustments are equalling anything. Let’s face it, I have no educated idea. All I know is when I walked into this place, if I touched my neck, I was instantly nauseous. This has substantially improved.”

Oh, I forgot to let you know about my anomaly – I have an extra vertebrae!


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This would have gone undiscovered if I didn’t have X-Rays. How can anyone know what’s going on in your back/neck/spine without taking a look first? Now that we know it exists, the story becomes a little more clear. This my friends, is a culprit to some of my lower back pain.

If we don’t keep the vertebrae healthy, it can cause a ton of unnecessary discomfort and degeneration. These little guys can decay, compress and misalign, but the fascinating part is that they are living organisms which can rejuvenate and repair. From my understanding, it’s like cutting the water supply off from a plant. These adjustments help the discs (cushions in between the vertebrae) stay hydrated, so a degenerated disc can start to regenerate again!

Approaching my 3-month mark, I was curious to see if there was change in my upper neck. The fog brain was leaving, and my productivity had insanely improved. A 12-hour day and I finally felt “on” rather than droopy and un-attentive.

Dr. Payne warned me that there may not be a distinct difference in my X-ray, since it hadn’t been long enough for structural change to be visible. Most people were accelerating their care with a neck traction devise called a Denneroll, but it was way too painful for me. I’m 26 though – I should be invincible, right?

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RED LINE = My curve
BLACK LINE = Normal curve

This didn’t mean much to me. In fact, I think the second one looks worse. This is what Dr. Payne said though, “The mid part of the neck is less reversed now, and the top bone in the neck is adapting its proper curve position.” Okay, that makes a little more sense.

I play competitive indoor volleyball and it seems to be a trend that the hardest hitters in the league focus on my face. I had two minor concussions and my fingers were going numb setting. I kept flashing them like I had spirit fingers, checking to see if they could still function by the third game. Will this keep getting worse? And, why isn’t an adjustment instantly curing it?

At this point, I had been seeing an RMT (Jon Alcombrack in Stittsville, ON) since November. My typical session with him involved many tears and alterations. He couldn’t support my head with just his hands; even the pressure of his fingers were too much. I kept asking, “can normal people handle this?”

Jon has his own chiro success story which carries over into the way he practices. It was always baffling me that his RMT comments mimicked what Dr. Payne was saying in my other ear. They are both officially apart of my health team. Cue the song: Cheerleader.

By this point, my hands were never bothering me anymore (my wrists get adjusted, especially with all this typing). I can shampoo my hair without flipping my head upside down, and chair pose is much more manageable! Volleyball was going well, except I crashed down on my knee and it gave me some sort of side whiplash. Dr. Payne worked on this a handful of times, and it’s much better now.

Headaches rarely exist and if the odd one does set in, it’s because I haven’t been drinking water. I changed my mentality whereby I can only say I have a headache out loud if I am well hydrated and it still exists.

Dr. Payne did a ton of current research on the best sitting / standing techniques and this also helped changed my office work life. My shoulders are stronger from sitting at the edge of my seat on my sit bones; this way they are forced to hold good posture. We’re also getting a stand up desk soon, so that we practice what we preach ;)

Iron North Studio was also a huge component of my health team. Once I got feeling better, I was able to sign up for more strength, yoga and spin classes. They provide an incredible sense of community and support too.


  • I had a breakthrough in the last month or so.
  • My shoulders can now rest back with ease
  • My vertebrae don’t make me nauseous at all when I touch them and I can finally use the Denneroll (neck traction device).
  • My endometriosis is tame now; I only take max two Aleve each month.
  • I had an RMT session with Jon that didn’t result in a single tear (it’s basically a measuring tool for me now).
  • I feel way stronger.
  • You can see in the posture pictures below that my forward head is now on straight ;)

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Let’s look at my neck up close. This is a one-year difference. The left was taken with film, and the right with our new digital X-Ray machine!

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* These are both side views. My face is pointing towards the left side of the screen. Can you see my chompers?

Normally the neck bones should form a “C” shape curve. The first picture on the left, I don’t have this at all. I’m the red line and it’s straight with a reversal in my C-4 and C-5 vertebrae.

The second picture at my year anniversary shows that these bones are on their way to curving in a proper direction. You can see a huge change at the top of the neck. Here the blue and green lines are much closer. I’m the blue line. Green is what “normal” would be and blue is my curve trying to play catch-up after 25 years of gymnastics, falling, improper pillows and conversing through a phone box.

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In the first picture on the left, my back is VERY posterior weight bearing. I’m the red line, and the black is “normal”. Without getting very technical (because I don’t even understand the lingo), this means that the lower back is pushed so far backwards it causes pain and dysfunction because parts of my body are bearing weight that they shouldn’t. This then damages my nerves.

The right picture shows the lower back coming into the proper position. I’m the pink line, and the green is “normal”. This is so much healthier for the spine, discs and nerves. My low back can now touch the floor in yoga! I started to make an effort to quit leaning to one side, always on my right hip (which is 4.4 mm lower) and to tuck my pelvis in. Guess what else happened?

Currently, I’m on medication for a dreaded face rash which is taking me on a crazy ride and suppresses my immune system. One day, I was ready to puke and an adjustment settled the nausea immediately. I still didn’t feel well, but at least it calmed the storm. I have digestive issues to map out, endometriosis (hormone related condition) to continue living with and sports that set me back with each injury or fall. The GOLDEN TICKET is that all of these things have improved:

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I want to add a few final notes to sign off on this case study. This entire year of chiro care has been tough. Re-structuring a spine is NOT a walk in the park. Our bodies are all so uniquely different and my experience is never going to look the same as yours will. It takes a lot of motivation and all depends on how much I want to improve.

I am not 100% free and clear of pain either. Hopefully my body will be moving and shifting for many more years to come; pain and discomfort I’ve learned, are just a communication point that change needs to be made. My body is telling me something and I can either ignore it, or face it head-on.

– Kate

P.S. If you read all the way to the end of this blog, THANK YOU SO MUCH. We’d love to meet you here at the clinic. Send me a message to set up a time, and if you mention that you read my story, your initial appointment is on the house!

*This blog post was originally written on July 21, 2016 and moved to wordpress on March 27, 2018.

Misconception: Icing

Ice jumped on the scene when NFL coaches in the 1960’s utilized it for pain relief to get their players back on the field. It was readily accessible, cheap and effective without the side effects of drugs. Then came the standard mantra in sport therapy circles: Rest, ICE, compress, and elevate for injury – R.I.C.E. for short.  

One common misconception is that people think “icing promotes healing”. I think this thought has to do with the popular notice of if I am out of pain then I am better. To confirm, ice does NOT help the healing process and in fact hinders it. Yes, it numbs the pain. It also reduces lymph flow.

The lymph system is the garbage collection and elimination system of the body. It helps to deal with the elimination of inflammation produced by injury. There are NO peer-reviewed journals that show applying ice increases healing and prevents injury. Ice water baths are another story, which I’ll write about next. 

Click here for a great video from Kelly Starrett, author of The Supple Leopard. 

Dr. Payne, D.C.

Do you ride the bus? Please read.

I just rode a bus for the first time in 30 years. 

My family and I took a shuttle bus to Landsdowne Park for the Canada vs. Brazil women’s soccer game. At times, patients make comments about travelling by bus; some feel quite sore or symptoms increase after riding it to their destination. I had thought, really? It can’t be that bad. 

Well, it is. 

I noticed a few things as I was reflecting on my experience. The first is that the driver was very courteous, patients and respectful of passengers, cars and especially cyclists. I am one of them, so thanks! 

The unpredictable nature of the open road is the main culprit, even with all of the skill our driver had. Movement becomes unpredictable – especially if you need to stand. If you have symptoms that derive from a subluxation (one or more vertebra that are misaligned in your spine), I can compassionately relate to you now. 

If you can snag a seat facing forwards, this is the best option; it’ll provide the most stability possible. If you end up standing on the ride, a strong core will be your saving grace. Here is a planking article/video to get you started. The first minute goes through a basic plank. For beginners, aim for 5 sets for 30-60 seconds each. For the advanced folks, there are a ton of great variations. Please don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion. A challenge is great, but overexertion can cause more harm than good. 

Stay awesome, 

Dr. Greg Payne, D.C. 
AVANT Chiropractic

* If you’re an OC Transpo driver, or have a valid Presto Pass and would like to see what’s happening with your neck, back and spine – send me a note to info@avantchiro.com for a complimentary Exam, X-Rays and Report. I’d love to meet you.