WATERLOO — From a New Hampton Chickasaw to an Iowa Hawkeye to a Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Humpal’s life has revolved around physical fitness.
“Growing up, it was sports — it was all sports. All my time and efforts were poured into my athletic lifestyle. Every minute of every day was training and paying attention to what I’m eating, getting enough rest and stretching,” he said.
The ups and downs of his athletic journey led him to play football for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes as well as a stint in the National Football League, coupled with a long series of neck injuries that ultimately took him out of the game.
But he’s not out of the action. Humpal is the leader of his own chiropractic office in North Liberty.
His interest in health chiropractic care began at an early age. Receiving treatments throughout his sports career, beginning when he was a wrestler and football player in junior high school, he said he felt positive results right away.
“They got me through the seasons,” he said.
Humpal graduated from New Hampton High School in 2003. With his competitive edge still intact for football, he tackled those dreams first.
He received a football scholarship to the U of I and played linebacker for the Hawkeyes from 2003 to 2007. Staying on track with what he knew best, he received a bachelor’s degree in health and sports studies.
But during his college career, he continued to get “stingers” with more frequency. Humpal described the “stingers” as an “irritation or trauma to a nerve root, or the nerves that come out of your neck. Symptoms can show up in your shoulder or arm with jolts of pain, loss of feeling and numbness.” And with each injury, the recovery time grew.
In spring 2008, Humpal was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round of the NFL draft. Later that year, during a preseason game, he suffered a significant neck stinger that affected his strength.
The Steelers placed him on injured reserve and ultimately released him from the team in 2009.
Still determined, he continued training at the University of Iowa, attended a minicamp with the Washington Redskins, tryouts with the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns. Physicians eventually told him he would not be cleared to continue playing anywhere.
It was time to put his alternative plan into action. He began working in medical device sales for sports-related injuries.
“I gained perspective on the health standpoint; how injuries are created and can be treated,” he said. “It was beneficial in chiropractic, knowing when I can help them and when I can’t, knowing where to send them and what they can expect.”
After three and a half years commuting from his home in North Liberty to Davenport, where he attended Palmer College of Chiropractic, he graduated Summa Cum Laude in October 2017 and went to work setting up a practice just a few minutes from home.
Humpal said his days of sustaining serious injuries are mostly over.
“If I’m not running into a 350-pound lineman on a daily basis, it’s not really an issue,” he said.
Now Humpal focuses on providing care to his patients, as well has his wife, Lindsey, and their 1-year-old child.
“No two chiropractors are the same, but with my background, I’ve had multiple surgeries ... I kind of take a broad approach, I have an open mind with every patient that walks in.”
Humpal specializes in manual adjustments and several specialized techniques.
“Knowing what I know now, so that others don’t make the same mistake that I did, preventative health care is a lot more important than what we give it credit for,” he said. “The whole premise of my office and how I run it is making sure people get moving. Get the individual joints moving so that way the patient can function the way they need to be ... and live their life how they want to, doing the things they’re excited to do.”