ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Natalie Richard's career journey started near the beginning of her life, at less than a week old. She says, "My entire life I have really been helped by chiropractic. I started when I was six days old, I had my first chiropractic adjustment and since then, every two weeks. It's been part of my life for a really long time."
Throughout her childhood and teenage years, Natalie suffered from many sprains and strains. But it was a chiropractor appointment, instead of the usual orthopedist appointment, who got her back on her feet. She says it was one specific appointment that "sparked" her interest in the chiropractic industry.
She says, "One time I remember specifically I had a knee injury of some sort and I went to the chiropractor and had been on crutches for two weeks. I got it adjusted and instantly, I walked out. That was one of the main sparks that was like hmm I think this is kind of cool."
Richards, a 2012 Boylan graduate, originally went into her senior year thinking a career in the culinary arts as a chef was what she wanted to do. But during a career that year, she realized being a chiropractor was her dream. She also credits an anatomy class at Rock Valley College and her professor for the class that put her back on track for chiropractics.
She says, "I was able to really learn a lot of deep information from that teacher and that kind of helped propel me in chiropractic school too." After attending Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, she took the next step, toward home.
"I was actually doing everything, made my business plan while I was still in school and I talked to banks. That was over a year ago that I started the process and I looked at this space, which was really nothing, it was cinder-block walls."
Natalie put together her business plan and in August 2019, opened her own practice at the intersection of Mulford and Riverside in Rockford, near the Wendy's. It offers everything from common back and spine adjustments to posture rebuilding. Her practice even offers stress-relieving treatments like an infrared sauna.
She says, "Pretty much everybody nowadays has a some sort of stress whether that's chemical, physical, psychological stress on their bodies. So it's really important to get adjusted and live that healthy lifestyle."
Natalie doesn't come from a family of chiropractors and while she's new to the Rockford chiropractor industry, she strives to make herself and her office standout. Saying of her patients, "As they come in they say oh it smells so great in here or mention the wall color and decor, it feels so fresh. That's what I wanted to put out there, to have this space for a relaxing experience, not for it to feel too medical and stuffy."
But the icing on the cake for Natalie is she gets to operate her practice, in the city she has and continues to love. "I had always envisioned myself coming back to Rockford and every time I was somewhere, I'd be like this place is cool but it's not Rockford. It's been great so far. The community in Rockford has been so supportive."