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Keeping his community moving

Former Hawkeye brings lessons from gridiron to chiropractic
Dr. Michael J. Humpal treats a patient at his chiropractic office in North Liberty. The former Iowa Hawkeye and Pittsburgh Steeler channels lessons learned from his athletic career into his practice at 1295 Jordan St., Suite 6B in North Liberty. (photo by Cale Stelken)

NORTH LIBERTY– In 2008, Iowa native Mike Humpal was on his way to a career in the NFL. The student-athlete for the Iowa Hawkeyes had been enlisted to the Pittsburgh Steelers during the sixth round draft that spring. During a preseason game, however, the young linebacker suffered a spinal cord concussion, a neck injury that resulted in being placed on injured reserve for the season.
“In games when you’re tackling guys, running full-speed into 350-pound linemen, that isn’t necessarily the best thing for your neck long-term,” he remarked.
The concussion, in combination with recurring injuries dating back to his college career, resulting in arm weakness from the continuing nerve injury, would bring his football aspirations to a halt.
Following his departure from the NFL, Humpal, who earned a Health and Sports Studies degree at the University of Iowa during his 2003 to 2007 enrollment, went into sports medicine device sales. But he knew his calling resided in the realm of physical health he studied in college, and would allow him to assist others by drawing from his own personal experiences.
“I saw becoming a doctor of chiropractic as an avenue to share my knowledge in human performance and to help people, whether treating them or getting them in the hands of the proper healthcare professional, and giving them an honest approach every patient deserves,” he said. “Chiropractic is another piece of the healthcare pie today, where the primary focus is putting the patient first.”
The doctor also emphasized the significance of chiropractic treatment and how, as a young athlete, he didn’t fully appreciate its value to his spinal health and well-being.
“I kind of missed the boat and didn’t utilize chiropractic as much as maybe I could have, as far as staying ahead of the game or returning from injury more quickly by maximizing range of motion and calming the nervous system down,” Humpal explained. “Because a lot of times you’re young and you’re invincible, or even in your 20s and 30s, you don’t pay attention to those minor aches and pains and then they go away after a day or so. All that accumulation builds up, and then eventually something happens all the sudden and you’re going backwards or sitting on the sideline.”
“Prehab is easier than rehab,” he summarized.
Humpal Chiropractic, LLC, located at 1295 Jordan St., Suite 6B in North Liberty, opened its doors January 2. The doctor incorporates a variety of techniques not common among all chiropractors.
“Most are taught the same techniques, yet we all kind of have our own fingerprint so to speak,” Humpal said of his field of medicine. For him, this means utilizing traditional hands-on adjustments, also known as manipulation, while also incorporating muscle work, active-release techniques and looking at the soft tissue component of injuries and pain.
With a certification in Active Release Technique of the Spine and Flexion-Distraction Technique, he utilizes trigger point therapy when needed and is extensively trained in manual adjusting techniques including Gonstead, Diversified, Thompson, Motion Palpation and extremity manipulation from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport. Humpal also provides neuromuscular electrical stimulation, interferential stimulation, Russian stimulation, cryotherapy, thermotherapy and manual traction, as well as postural and therapeutic exercises. He says the growing body of evidence suggests chiropractic care is best suited for low back pain, neck pain and headaches, while also effective in treating conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
Dr. Humpal also pointed out his ability to take chiropractic mobile, offering the flexibility to bring on-site care to businesses. This can help reduce work injuries, lower employer healthcare costs and improve performance in the workforce.
The doctor says his practice is a culmination of academic training combined with lessons learned firsthand on the gridiron.
“I wanted to get into a profession where I could share some of my experiences, speak positivity into people’s lives and ask them, ‘You know what? Do you want to be at home sitting around or would you rather get up and moving, doing the things you want to do?’” he said. “That’s what life’s about, and that’s what we’re here to help you do.”
Humpal also emphasizes chiropractic treatment isn’t just for athletes, as he caters to young, old, pregnant and everyone in between. Above all, he’s made it his goal to help the community “keep moving.”
“That is the name of the game. When people come in to my office, I want to get them moving,” he insisted. “Sometimes we have to take a step backwards to go forward initially, but that’s essentially the treatment approach— to get all the joints and tissues in and around the spine moving well.”
The doctor carries into his practice lessons from various athletic mentors, including his football strength coach, Chris Doyle of the University of Iowa. These include staying on top of exercise, diet, rest, positive thinking and taking time to appreciate the small things in life.
“The amount of knowledge that guy has and the things he preached to us when we were playing that I now find myself saying to patients— I was learning that stuff way before I ever thought it would be applicable in my professional career,” Humpal said.
While setbacks, injuries and other circumstances arise in life, “stay in the game; keep going,” he recited. “Keep a positive attitude, focus on the task at hand and prioritize your health. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not doing yourself any favors to be there for your loved ones or be able to roll around with your kids and play catch with them in the backyard.”
Humpal, who resides in North Liberty with his wife, Lindsey; son, Parker and daughter, Nora, said he’s excited to be giving back to the community that provided such a strong foundation for his life and career.
“It’s not my turn anymore, it’s everyone else’s turn. This community did such a great job supporting me as a student-athlete, as they do for all,” he said. “I was fortunate to be a Hawkeye having played football here, and now I’m just turning the page and saying, ‘Hey, thanks for your support.’ It’s fun to reminisce about those days with different patients, but now it’s also so much more rewarding and exciting to help them when they need it.”