A footballing injury brought about a change of career goal for chiropractor Dr John Fullwood.
John, who runs Colne Valley Chiropractic at Scar Lane, Milnsbridge, was all set to study dentistry when his mishap on the pitch prompted a change of plan.
“I was playing football for Greenhead College and injured my neck heading the ball,” he says.
“I was in real pain. I went to a chiropractor and with one quick movement I could move my neck again. It really was just a quick ‘click’ and the relief was immediate.”
Thoughts of studying to be a dentist were immediately banished and John set his sights on a career in chiropractice.
He says: “I was interested in health matters generally and interested in sport and physiotherapy, but I started to broaden my horizons.”
John was among the last pupil to attend West Slaithwaite School – reputedly the smallest school in the country – before its closure. He went on to Kaye’s College before going to Greenhead to do science-based A-levels.
He gained his degree in chiropractice at the University of Glamorgan – one of only two universities in the country to teach the chiropractice techniques he wanted to pursue.
Before undertaking the four-year degree, however, John took a couple of years out.
A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he undertook his church mission in Scotland, where he met his American-born wife, Alisha.
Following graduation, John worked in Lytham – and treated players from Blackpool FC and Preston North End as well as doing some work with athletics teams and golf professionals.
He says: “I have a cousin who is a chiropractor in Southport and he was the first person I worked for. As I was building up my business, I had the opportunity to work in Chorley.”
By now, John and Alisha had two children – and a new life in the USA beckoned. Alisha, who hails from Las Vegas, was feeling homesick for her family and they agreed to move back to the States for a while.
John completed his post-graduate studies while living in America and worked as a medical director at a private boarding school for troubled teenagers in southern Utah.
“We were in the States for almost six years,” says John. “But our children had lots of cousins in the UK and we decided that was more important than sunshine every day!”
John returned to work at a chiropractice in Chorley – where he still holds clinics two days a week. But 18 months ago, he took up an invitation to set up Colne Valley Chiropractic at the Huddersfield Sanctuary in Scar Lane.
The premises are home to a number of businesses offering complementary therapies as well as a nutritionist and a personal trainer.
John draws many of his clients from the Colne Valley – particularly Marsden where there used to be a chiropractice in the village.
Most of his patients have problems relating to lower back and neck pain, which can manifest themselves as sciatica and headaches.
“When people come in to see me, they will often mention other things like a frozen shoulder and knee problems,” says John.
“These are things I can work on.
“Many of the problems stem from sitting at a desk all the time. We’re not designed for sitting for long periods – but work is ‘set up’ for people to sit at computers and desks.
“The next big area is work-related injuries where people do physically demanding jobs and get injuries as a result of that, There are also injuries that result from road traffic accidents, such as whiplash – and sports-related problems.”
John’s advice to desk-bound workers is simple. “Every 45 minutes, have a break and have a walk around.
“Have a quick brisk walk regularly during the day. There are also specific lower back and neck exercises to stretch out the muscles.
“For people working at a desk, there are little tricks to make you sit up right. The same goes for car drivers. Set your rear view mirror a little higher to encourage you to sit up straight.”
Says John: “A lot of patients who come in cannot pinpoint the cause of their pain. I talk to them about their lifestyle and work and it becomes quite clear that the issue has been developing gradually over a long period of time.
“If a joint is stiff and muscles weak, you might not get any pain. it is only when there is inflammation in the joint you notice it.”
Posture can play a big part in reducing the likelihood of back and neck pain, says John. In that regard, mobile technology isn’t helping! People slumped over their smartphones and tablets are storing up trouble for themselves.
“If your head is even an inch further forward than it should be, then that will affect things,” he says. “It doesn’t need to be much.”
Says John: “These issues mainly affect the middle aged population. I have treated a six-week old baby, but it is rare to find these problems in childhood.
“About 80% of clients come through word of mouth and recommendation from friends, families or neighbours.
“Alisha works on the social media side and we have had some patients come to us through our online presence.”
Away from work, John’s faith is clearly important to him. He works with a youth group at his church in Meltham. The group of 12 to 18-year-olds meet on Tuesday evenings for various activities and service.
“I enjoy running,” says John. “Since coming back from America I have had a renewed love for the area – the greenery and the hills. There are so many nice trails and paths to run.
“I still play a little football, but only recreationally. I most enjoy spending time with the kids and going out on walks with friends.
“I’ve done a bit of wind surfing and I quite enjoy water sports when I get the chance.”
But his ambition in business is to continue building Colne Valley Chiropractic – and help things “click” for his patients.
Family: Married to Alisah with children
Malachi, 11, Eleanor, eight, Tobyn, six and Maizy, four
Holidays: We try to get back to the States to visit Alisha’s family and we enjoy caravan holidays in Scotland. Alisha and I occasionally get away for weekends in Europe
Car: A Vauxhall Zarifa and an old Mercedes C Class
First job: I used to go from farm to farm washing cars up at Cop hill,
Slaithwaite. I also had a couple of jobs after college, including working at a dog biscuit factory in Birstall
Best thing about the job? The satisfaction of helping patients overcome fairly debilitating problems
Worst thing about the job? TMy problem is I want to get people better, faster. If I have 20 patients in a day and just one isn’t making the progress I would like, that’s the one I’m always thinking about
Business tip: Don’t cut corners. Provide as good a product or service as you can.
Work: Chiropractic care
Site: Scar Lane, Milnsbridge
Phone: W07463 736328