Back to School: Backpacks – How to pick the right one.

Why it Matters…

With the start of a new school year upon us its time to talk backpacks. It is important to have a backpack that is correctly sized for your child (and yourself). Improperly fitted or overweight backpacks can lead to back pain, neck pain, headaches, muscle tension and poor posture – setting your child up for future injuries and musculoskeletal conditions.

When an improperly fitted backpack or an overloaded backpack is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the force can pull a child into backwards (extension) position. To compensate, a child may then bend forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. This position compresses the discs between the vertebra and reduces motion at the spinal joints, while pinching the nerve supply and blood flow of that area. This can cause spinal misalignments that in some kids will develop into shoulder, neck, and back pain.

Backpack specs…

A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10% of their body weight.


Backpacks should have wide padded shoulder straps.

Shoulder straps should sit 1-2” below the top of the shoulder blade.

Look for backpacks that have a padded back and mesh panel.

The length of the back pack should not extend beyond 4”past the iliac crests (top of the hip bones).

Place heavy objects toward the back of the pack.

Encourage kids to wear both straps of their backpacks.

How to Measure for a backpack…

First you need to find the torso length.

  1. Start by finding the bony bump where the slope of the shoulders meets the neck (C7 vertebra).


2. Then find the top of the hip bones (iliac crests) use your thumbs to mark an imaginary line across the tops of the hips.


3. With a soft tape measure, measure from C7 to the imaginary line between your thumbs – that’s your torso length.


4. Next you need to adjust your shoulder straps. The anchor points should be 1-2 inches below the top of your shoulder blades.


5. If your pack has a sternum strap it should sit about 1 inch below the collar bones. The strap should be adjusted to a width that is comfortable and allows the arms to move freely. If it is too tight it can constrict your chest muscles and restrict breathing.


I’ve included links to backpacks of varying sizes that meet all the requirements listed above.

Remember to:

  • Measure torso length to determine size of backpack needed.
  • Look for a backpack that has wide padded shoulder straps and a padded back panel.
  • Weigh your child’s backpack (fully packed) to make sure it is not over the weight limit. It is better for them to carry an object in their arms to help reduce the weight being placed on their spine.


Recommended Backpacks:


1. Fjallraven Kid’s Raven Mini Pack (*This is the pack we’re going with.)

backpack 1


2. Potterybarn Kids Mackenzie Backpacks

backpack 2.png


3. The Northface Women’s Isabella Backpack



4. Fjallraven Raven 20L Pack


Tips for Better Sleep

alarm-alarm-clock-analogue-682422 (2)Deep, restful sleep is so important for our health, providing us with the physical and mental energy we need to function during the day. During deep, undisturbed sleep, tissue growth and repair occurs. Poor quality sleep and not enough sleep can slow down this process contributing to longer injury recovery times. Here are some simple, natural tips for a better night’s sleep.

– Engage in moderate exercise 3-4 times a week. Moving your body, causes you to burn more energy, which makes it easier to falls asleep and results in better quality sleep. Keep your moderate to intense workouts a couple of hours before bed as these types of workouts can be stimulating, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Try adding an evening walk, stretching, or gentle yoga as well.

– Avoid caffeine, overly processed foods, added sugars and alcohol late in the day. These foods can disturb sleep causing you to wake up several times a night (for short duration’s that you may not remember in the morning).

– Put down your smart phone and turn off your TV at least an hour before bed time. The blue light from the screens can decrease or cease the production of melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel sleepy) delaying REM sleep and decreasing overall quality of sleep.

– Practice guided imagery, deep breathing techniques, and meditation to help quiet your mind and prepare yourself for sleep.

  If restless legs or muscle twitching is disturbing your sleep see your chiropractor for an adjustment (this helps to calm those overactive areas) and consider taking a Magnesium supplement.

With these tips you should be on your way to a better night’s sleep and quicker recovery time!



This podcast delighted and annoyed me…

While travelling this past week, I was pleasantly surprised to hear my favorite podcast covering the story of a young woman with a medical mystery that was then helped by chiropractic.

Listen to the podcast first, then read on for more.

Hope you enjoy!

Podcast #42 Blindspot  – Reply All, Gimlet Media



Image result for scm muscle


So, what did you think? Were any of you repetitively telling the podcast to go see a Chiropractor as you were listening to this?? Just me? Feel bad for my hubby who had to listen to me talk through this podcast and then rant for about 20 minutes afterwards on how I couldn’t believe the reporters didn’t interview the Chiropractor and ended the podcast still not fully understanding what SCM syndrome is and how it can be treated with chiropractic care.

The podcast didn’t explain what SCM syndrome is or why it can successfully be treated with Chiropractic care so I thought I would.

Sternocleidomastoid syndrome is the myofascial dysfunction of the SCM muscle that results in active trigger points that can refer pain along the head, face, and around the ear. These trigger points are typically a result of biomechanical dysfunction in the neck, upper back and shoulder girdle region that includes postural dysfunction and segmental spinal joint dysfunction.

The sternocleidomastoid muscle is an anterior neck muscle that flexes the head to the side and rotates the head. It consists of two branches that attach from the head (behind the jaw) to the sternum and to the clavicle. Myofascial dysfunction of this muscle can result in active trigger points (“knots”) that can refer pain to other areas of the body. Trigger points of the SCM can refer pain to areas of the head, face, and around the ears. These trigger points can also affect the musculature of the eyes resulting in dropping eyelids, twitches, or blurry vision, to name a few. The SCM also plays an important role in proprioception (via the cervical vertebrae C2 and C3), meaning it relays a lot of sensory information letting the body know where it is at in space; dysfunction of this area can lead to symptoms such as disequilibrium, vertigo, dizziness and nausea.

SCM trigger points can occur as a result of biomechanical dysfunction of the neck, upper back, and shoulder region. Abnormal posture (forward head and rounded shoulders), dysfunctional muscle movement patterns, and spinal and joint fixation all can cause and contribute to this cascade of symptoms. Treatment of this syndrome involves myofascial (soft tissue) therapy to reduce the active trigger points and pain; Chiropractic adjustments/manipulations to reduce pain and restore proper muscle function and movement patterns; therapeutic stretches and exercises to correct posture and movement patterns.

Chiropractors are well educated and trained in the diagnosis of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Chiropractors utilize the patients reported symptoms (history), a physical examination diagnostic tests and imaging to help make these diagnoses. Chiropractic manipulation is a manual therapy treatment that uses a physical force to help restore mobility and function of spinal segments and extremity joints; because we are using a physical force we always want to properly diagnosis a condition and discern a biomechanical condition from a pathological condition so that the patient can get the appropriate treatment they need to get better, whether that is included chiropractic or requires a different medical intervention.



  1. Missaghi, B. Sternocleidomastoid syndrome: a case study. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2004 Sep; 48(3): 201–205.
  2. Murphy, D. The Strenocleidomastoid Syndrome. Dynamic Chiropractic. April 12, 1991, Vol. 09, Issue 08.


Form First- The Importance of Proper Form During Exercise


Before beginning any exercise movement or lifting any amount of weight, it is important to train our bodies on correct posture and the specific pattern in which we need our bodies to move in order to successfully perform a certain exercise.  By focusing first on structure, stability and balance we are laying the foundation for a strong body and healthy spine. Everything we do, whether it is in the gym or an activity of daily life such as lifting up our children or picking up a small object off the floor, creates a neurological pathway or a particular pattern in which we naturally perform a task. When we practice utilizing good form in our exercises we re-enforce using the same good form throughout our activities of daily living. When a person performs an exercise or activity without utilizing correct form they are setting themselves up for injury and dysfunction in the long run.

This week we are going to breakdown Good Form vs. Bad Form for five common exercises that are essential to everyday activities. Unsure about a certain exercise? Ask Dr. Alicia Barnes or Sarah Barnes E.P. to form check you when you come in for your next appointment!

Meal Prep Secrets You Need to Know!

This week Sarah and I are sharing some of our easy meal prep ideas to help keep your eating healthy throughout the week. These simple meal prep ideas make meal planning so much easier! I start with the same basic plan each week: breakfast is usually eggs or oatmeal/refrigerator oats/chia pudding (switching out the style and veggies served with the eggs and switching up the toppings for the oatmeal and chia pudding to keep things fresh; lunch is usually dinner leftovers, a snack plate  (which includes raw veggies, fruit, crackers, cheese  and a protein)  or an easy toss salad; snacks are typically a smoothie or an apple with some almond butter; dinners are where we tend to mix things up, although I know each week I will make a stir-fry, a fish dinner, a chicken dinner, and a pizza (TGIF!). By keeping the types of dishes the same and just mixing up the ingredients it makes meal planning quicker and easier.

Each week I will prep veggies and fruit to have on hand. Slicing all the veggies and washing the fruit and then storing everything in glass containers so they are easy to see in the fridge.
Cutting up veggies and storing them in glass containers saves time and keeps them fresh for snacking all week long!
I will also prep either hardboiled eggs or some grilled chicken to have on hand for our snack plates or salads. In addition I will cook up some quinoa or rice to have to mix in with the salads to give it a little more bulk and make it more satiating.
Keeping pre cooked rice, quinoa, hardboiled eggs, and grilled chicken in the fridge makes adding bulk to your meals and snacks quick and easy.
Then I will prep some refrigerator oats or chia pudding which can be used as a breakfast or a snack. We also keep a lot of frozen fruit in the freezer and have on hand almond milk, coconut milk or coconut water for smoothies.
Take a look at what I put together this week. This food prep maybe took an hour (timing may be off due to a certain 3-year-old and her many needs).
Dr. Alicia’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Seed Pudding:
Small mason jars make for the perfect portion size.
1/4 c.          Chia seeds
1 c.             Almond Milk
2 Tbsp       Peanut butter
1 Tbsp       Maple Syrup
½ tsp         Vanilla
3 Tbsp       Cocoa powder
In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Portion into into serving size containers. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, top with sliced bananas and pecans, and enjoy.
Alicia Barnes, DC,CCSP

Exactly Why Sitting is so Bad for Your Spine

No matter how comfortable or ergonomically positioned your work station is, sitting for hours everyday causes stress and strain on the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine. This stress is referred to as Tissue Creep which is the progressive deformation of tissue beyond its intrinsic stretch capacity resulting from a constant load over time. A classic example of this is sitting at a desk all day with a forward head position and a rounded, slumped spine. This sustained loading causes micro-damage in the tissue which leads to muscle stiffness and spasms, inflammation, and decreased range of motion. Tissue Creep is time dependent, the process starts to occur after about 30 minutes. To stop this process from occurring try this micro-break throughout the day:

Standing up, roll the shoulders back and down, squeezing the shoulder blades together, look up towards the ceiling and reach your finger tips down towards the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Perform every 30 minutes throughout your working day. 

Micro-breaks help to relieve built-up tension and reset our posture, helping to keep our muscles and spine healthy.

Spring into Fitness

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:

Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 9:15 AM
– to –
Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 9:15 AM (EDT)

Kreag Road Park
555 Kreag Road
Pittsford, NY 14534

Order tickets via Eventbrite:

Join Sarah Barnes CEP for this 6 week spring into fitness series. The class will take place every Saturday Morning from April 2nd – May 7th 9:15 a.m.-10:15 a.m. Kreag Road Park, rain or shine! (rain dates will be provided for heavy percipitation)
This group circut workout utilizes a combination of high intensity and low intensity body weight exercises for a complete body workout, pre- and post-workout stretching, warm-up and cool-down, follow by a short discussion on fitness topics and an open Q&A. Total class time will be 1 hour.
ALL fitness levels welcome! Spots are limited, reserve yours now!


30-Day Step Challenge

Register for this free event now through Friday March 11th!106114

Track your steps daily for 30 days using a pedometer. Already wearing a tracking device? No need to double-up – use your Fitbit, Jawbone, Withings, Garmin, Misfit, Apple Watch, Moves App, or the built-in tracker on iPhone 5s+ to track you steps.

The challenge begins 12:00 a.m. Monday March 14th and ends at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday April 12th.

The registered participant with the most steps at the end of the 30 Days will receive an awesome prize! Winner will be announced Friday April 15th.

Want to increase your daily steps? Like us on Facebook for tips and tricks to get up and get moving!

Monday, March 14, 2016 at 12:00 AM Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 11:30 PM (EDT)