Travis Hart jokes that he and his wife Sarah Harkins are “a traditional chiropractic couple,” ticking off the names of other husband-wife duos who work together in practices across Vermont.
Hart and Harkins started Vermont Chiropractic and Sports Medicine in Hinesburg in November 2009. A year and a half ago, they opened an additional smaller practice in Williston.
A fourth-generation Vermonter, Hart grew up in Hinesburg, running and playing basketball. As he got older, he started doing triathlons and in 2009 he finished the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid. He also has run marathons and even one 50K race, but he is starting to transition to more golf in the summer and downhill skiing in the winter. He continues to run one marathon each year and has also begun devoting time to weightlifting.
That athletic background drew him to sports medicine. “Chiropractic is the foundation of our practice, but thankfully our profession has evolved in the last century,” Hart said. “We focus mostly on sports injuries, including a lot of things that are outside traditional chiropractic treatment like muscle strains and sprains. Although we are chiropractors, we treat everything from the foot to the shoulder. It’s not just spinal care anymore.”
It’s a misconception that people should only go to chiropractors when they are in acute pain, Hart explained. “We do preventative medicine to keep people out of the ‘red zone’,” he said. “If they get there, it takes more time, energy and money to get out.”
The couple treats a range of patients but they are often visited by high-performance runners, triathletes and body builders. “We help athletes get to the next level,” Hart said. “We are always aiming to improve performance.”
In addition to their clinical practice, Hart and Harkins offer their services at athletic events such as marathons and triathlons by setting up a tent to provide assistance before and after the races. “It’s a great way to introduce what we have to offer,” he said. The couple’s second location in Williston is located inside a body-building gym, catering specifically to those individuals.
Hart acknowledges that there are still skeptics who don’t believe in chiropractors but he said he believes his profession has advantages over traditional medicine. “Chiropractors don’t study pharmacology,” he said. “That gives us more time learning anatomy and physiology. There are so many different techniques and disciplines that it has something to offer for everyone.”
Hart is happy to have put down roots where he grew up. “I spent my whole life trying to get out of Hinesburg, but when I got my doctorate I realized I wanted to come home.”
Hart and Harkins, a native of Canada, met in chiropractic school and worked for some time in Annapolis. “We knew we wanted to start our own practice and have a family and my vision took me back to my hometown,” he said.
That practice has a distinct small-town feel. “It’s just the two of us,” Hart said. “If you call the office, you speak to one of the doctors. We wear a lot of different hats but I feel that connects us even more to the community. Our boys are 8 and 6 and they are our number one goal. When we’re not with them, the practice is a close second.”