Noe Valley Voice March 2006

Store Trek

By Laura McHale Holland

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month we introduce two centers for chiropractic medicine, one of which is sharing space with a midwife.

Fitwell Chiropractic and Sports Medicine
900 Noe Street at 22nd Street

In 2004, after four years of building her chiropractic business on Church Street (across from Chloe's café), Lisa Covey moved Fitwell Chiropractic and Sports Medicine up to the corner of Noe and 22nd streets. "It's much nicer here up on the hill," she says. "We've got good views, and it's always good exercise for clients who come and see me."

Once inside, clients are greeted by Rikke Cox, Covey's office manager, and by Mette, a jet-black curly-coated retriever, who shares the sunny, orchid-lined reception area with Cox. "It's amazing the effect Meta has. She's really sweet. People sit down and pet her and calm right down," says Covey.

Covey, who lives on Castro Street, was drawn to her profession because of its basic philosophy, which holds that "the body has an innate capacity to heal itself," she says. "[Chiropractic medicine] is a way of augmenting what the body already knows how to do."

She also finds it deeply rewarding to help people get well. "It's seeing people leave the office with a smile on their face, seeing someone learn to trust their own instincts and their own decisions regarding their health."

In addition to doing spinal adjustments, Covey adjusts feet, hands, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. She uses several different techniques, including the popular "active-release" technique. "It's a way of mobilizing the soft tissue. Whenever there's trauma in the body, whether from surgery or an accident or repetitive strain, or even postural distortion, the body's natural response is the formation of scar tissue, which causes tissues to adhere to themselves as well as other structures," she says. "This is responsible for a lot of aches and pains that become chronic and can create a cumulative injury cycle. The active-release technique is a specific treatment protocol that's directed at removing those adhesions. I've found that it dovetails very nicely with chiropractic adjustment."

Covey also practices the Graston technique, which uses bevel-edged stainless-steel instruments and is gaining popularity with athletes, she says.

Fitwell has two treatment rooms, a massage therapy and Rolfing room (available for use by other massage therapists), a progressive rehab room, and an x-ray room where patients can receive motion x-rays. "It's a fascinating technology that allows us to put joints through a range of motion, and if there's a ligamentous injury, we can see it through the aberrant motion of the joint."

Ultimately, Covey says, her work is about giving clients information. "The more information we can give people about their body's health and well-being, the more they're likely to be able to heal on their own."

Fitwell Chiropractic is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m.; and Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m. For more information, visit

More Mojo Chiropractic
1347 Church Street at Clipper Street

Wisewoman Childbirth Traditions

For weeks, neighbors have been stopping in at More Mojo Chiropractic at the corner of Church and Clipper streets and asking whether the new business is an art gallery because of the building's freshly painted gold-and-red exterior and the vibrant artwork hung on the walls inside.

"People get excited. They definitely sense a different kind of action going on inside the studio," says Darci Kendrick, who along with Kristine Hicks opened More Mojo's doors in Noe Valley on Jan. 2. The two chiropractors are sharing the space with midwife Maria Iorillo.

"It's a serendipitous union," Kendrick says. "Two years ago, Maria was the midwife for both my baby and for Kristine's baby, and here we are now all working together. Maria's very popular in Noe Valley because she's done a lot of home births here and she's done so much to get home birthing on the map."

Before the move, Kendrick, who lives in the Upper Market area, and Hicks, a Bernal Heights resident, were sharing a Mission District office, called More Mojo Studios. Iorillo, who lives in Noe Valley, was sharing office space with Natural Resources on Diamond Street.

"Up on Diamond Street there wasn't a lot of walk-by traffic," says Iorillo, whose 20-year-old business is called Wisewoman Childbirth Traditions. "Since I delivered Darci and Kristine's babies, we've done a lot of cross-referrals, so coming together in this little hub of activity is really great. Overall we're wanting to make More Mojo an educational hub where people can not only get chiropractic and midwife care, but we're also going to hold classes and introduce alternative practitioners, particularly acupuncturists and homeopathic and naturopathic doctors, in the community."

Hicks and Kendrick see people in all walks of life, but Hicks focuses on families, seeing a large number of children and pregnant women. Kendrick emphasizes sports-related work, combining adjustments with soft-tissue work such as the active-release technique. "You'll see children running around here next to weekend warriors coming in with sports injuries," Kendrick says.

Hicks emphasizes that chiropractic care really is for people of all ages and that treatments for the very young tend to be subtler than those for adults. "Most people think chiropractic is just for back and neck pain, but it's about the nervous system. The reason we look at the back and neck is because that's where the brain stem and spinal cord are housed. We're nervous system doctors, and a healthy nervous system optimally reflects on every system in the body," she says.

While Iorillo's consultation and examination rooms are private, most of the chiropractic adjustments are done in an open space. "We don't have walls separating our adjusting tables; you're part of a family of adjustments," says Kendrick. She quickly points out, though, that patients who need privacy are easily accommodated in a private room."We have a common goal to participate in this community for a long, long time, and to strengthen this region as a haven for home birthing and natural health care. To have been so welcomed by the community already has been awesome," Kendrick says. "Church Street is an experience in and of itself. It's not just our practice. It's all the other practices and the restaurants and little cafes and the fact that this is an old neighborhood with roots. It just feels really good to be part of it."

Hicks' hours are Mondays and Thursdays, from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.; and Wednesdays, 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 5:15 p.m. Kendrick works Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. And Iorillo is in the office from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursdays.