by Lou Mancinelli
When Dr. Austin Noonan purchased Chestnut Hill Chiropractic in 2002, he inherited more than 2,000 patient files. For years before that, the practice, located at the top of the hill, where Germantown Avenue meets Bethlehem Pike, was operated by Dr. James Tormey.
Tormey moved the practice to its current location in the late ’80s. Before that, he practiced with his wife near the current location of the Trolley Car Diner. So in a sense, Noonan runs a family practice that has existed in the northwest community for three decades. And Noonan is very much a community man.
A Flourtown resident, Noonan, 42, discovered his interest in the field after he “got shellacked” playing CYO football. He was a seventh grader at St. Luke’s in his hometown of Glenside, an offensive lineman who got his neck and upper back banged up when his own running back rammed into him in a play gone wrong. In the weeks following the injury his body felt ragged. It was a trip to a chiropractor that provided relief.
“I [went from feeling] like I was destroyed to feeling like a normal seventh grader again,” said Noonan about his first physical experience with chiropractic medicine. “I thought it was pretty cool stuff.”
The chiropractor who had adjusted the young Noonan was Dr. Tormey, who was also a deacon at Our Mother of Consolation Church for 15 years until he left in 2003. Tormey had been treating Noonan’s mother, who could hardly move in the morning when she awoke. “Just the fact that he got my mom to being human again” was enough to rouse Noonan’s interest in the field.
After graduating from La Salle College High School in 1989, he enrolled in Penn State University. In 1993 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science. Four years later he graduated from the New York Chiropractic College, where he was elected class president.
While he was in chiropractic school, Noonan shared the news of his studies with Tormey. “He said, ‘Dude, look me up when you get out.’ So that’s what I did.”
For the first two years after graduation, Noonan worked for Tormey. Then, in 1999, Karmich Chiropractic Wellness Centers hired Noonan to help the company open gyms. The group “wanted to go global, make it the new NovaCare.”
But in 2002 Noonan left Karmich. It was around that time he received a call from Tormey, who was looking to sell his practice. “The transition was great, quite frankly,” said Noonan. “People were quite comfortable because they knew me” from the last time he had worked for Tormey.
Noonan’s practice, run by a staff of four, is rooted in a holistic approach formed by the idea of balancing the mind, body and spirit. “It’s like dominoes,” said Dr. Noonan. “If you come in with back pain, I’m looking at your knees, your hips, your flexibility … Getting rid of the pain is the easy part. Getting rid of the cause that’s making you feel that pain, that’s the nuts and bolts of it.”
As a chiropractor, his primary job is to adjust and manipulate the musculoskeletal system. More simply said, his job is to relieve the kinks and aches, tightness and even tiredness the body can at times feel. His office also offers massages as a service.
The classic chiropractic case, according to Noonan, is a person bending down to pick something up and in the process blowing out his/her lower back. “My job is to get in there and basically be the WD-40 for the spine.”
Pain or tensions like morning stiffness can also be caused by a lack of hydration, according to Noonan. One’s muscles lose blood while one sleeps. If one is already tight before one falls asleep, that extra loss of blood can contribute to increased tightness in the morning. Simple stretches or motion exercises can get the blood circulating again.
Meanwhile, a healthy circulation of life outside his office is something Noonan enjoys about the community. While the number of banks along the avenue rouses for him a spell of distaste, Noonan has nevertheless submerged himself in the neighborhood. He is a member of the Chestnut Hill Business Association, Chestnut Hill Community Association, Chestnut Hill Historical Society, and a Friend of the Free Library at its Chestnut Hill Branch, among others.
“I want to contribute to the community I’m part of,” said Noonan, a father of two. Kalei, his daughter, will be 7 this April. His son Brendan is 4. He has been married to his wife Jennifer since 2004.
Chestnut Hill Chiropractic is located at 8618 Germantown Ave., 1st Floor Rear. Anyone who calls the office looking for a massage and wishes them a happy 10th anniversary will get 20% off that massage. For more information, call 215-248-5460 or visit chestnuthillchiropractic.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.