Human Health founder chiropractor Tom Faulkner opened his business’s second premises this year. He tells Emily Moore about his journey into the industry and how adjustments promote wellbeing.
IF you had asked a 17-year-old Tom Faulkner how his career was likely to develop, his answer would have involved travelling around the world as a pilot with the RAF.
Indeed, when the former Victoria College student left school with a flying scholarship to join the military service, he had no doubts that aviation – combined with some rugby in his spare time – would form the basis of his life.
But even the best-laid plans are often subject to change, as Tom soon discovered.
‘After learning to fly a light aircraft and having some chats with senior members of the RAF, I suddenly realised that, while the idea of flying an aeroplane at 1,000mph seemed fantastic, it wasn’t congruent with my skillset,’ he explained.
‘I had always had an interest in healthcare and I became more and more convinced that I wanted to do something in that sector but I was struggling to find a discipline which really resonated with me.’
After a chance conversation with a fellow Old Victorian, Tom was introduced to the world of chiropractic.
‘At that point, I had no idea how to spell the word, let alone what the job entailed, but the way he described it interested me,’ Tom laughed. ‘After spending a couple of hours shadowing a local chiropractor, everything fell into place and I applied to study at AECC University College in Bournemouth.’
After five years of intensive training, which included stints working with AFC Bournemouth at the time the team was promoted to the Premiership and completing a post-graduate course in paediatrics, the newly qualified doctor returned to the Island, determined to use his ‘understanding of the human body to help people to help themselves to enhance their well-being in a natural way’.
‘Given my rugby background, I originally thought that I would work in a sports environment but then I realised that, while a sportsperson might suffer an injury or muscle strain, everybody’s life experiences impact their body,’ he said. ‘As a result, I wanted to work with people across the community, from newborn babies through to the elderly.’
Driven by this desire, Tom founded Human Health, above Grand Marché in St Peter, in 2016, growing the business to a team of five including three practitioners, who, from this month, are now operating from both the St Peter premises and the company’s new town address.
‘Even before Covid hit in 2020, I had started looking for a second site for the business, as I was really keen to have a town location,’ he explained. ‘However, Covid put that journey on hold for a couple of years.
‘Towards the end of last year, I was telling a client that I felt the time was right to revisit the plan and she asked where I wanted to be. I said that the ideal premises would be within 500 square feet of Charing Cross and, later that evening, she sent me an email, suggesting that I look at the former Reid’s Pharmacy.’
Struck by the shop’s address, history and layout, Tom started operating from the second Human Health premises on 9 January, with the official opening, performed by St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, taking place on Saturday.
‘While we already work with a lot of people in the corporate sector, we realised that a town address would make it much easier for individuals and businesses based in St Helier to work with us,’ he explained. ‘In the UK in 2021, more than 150 million working days were lost through ill health, with the average person having six days off sick during the year. Of those absences, 30% related to musculoskeletal conditions. These statistics highlight the importance of looking after ourselves and giving people access to hands-on care.’
Indeed, while Tom says that there is a lot of emphasis on employees looking after their own health, there are times when people need some help to achieve this.
‘While we all know that exercise and nutrition can improve our wellbeing, complying with this is often another matter and, with the demands of modern life, you can’t always follow a perfect routine,’ he acknowledged. However, it is important to remember that our health is there to serve us. There will be times when you won’t be able to do everything you would like to, but if you build up a level of tolerance and adaptability during the rest of the year, those times will be easier to manage.’
While many people may wait until they experience discomfort before seeking help, Tom says that the way in which the spinal cord, brain and nervous system are entwined means that they ‘experience everything we experience within our days’.
‘From stress at work or home to postural stress and our diets, the spinal cord is like a filter, experiencing everything that our senses perceive,’ he explained. ‘This starts with birth – the first time that a body undergoes significant change – and then continues throughout life, as physical, emotional and mental experiences impact on our health.’
Because of this, Tom describes chiropractic as a holistic form of healthcare.
‘We are not just identifying the problem in someone’s body and creating a solution but assessing the cause of the discomfort, whether that be back or neck pain, sciatica or migraines,’ he said.
‘Through a series of adjustments, we re-educate the body and brain to work as a team, not just to overcome issues and injuries, but also to try to prevent things from happening and to maintain and promote wellbeing.’
To achieve this, the Human Health practitioners focus on chiropractic, craniopathy and functional health.
‘While chiropractic often focuses on the spine, arms and legs, craniopathy looks at the skull, which sits at the top of the spinal cord,’ Tom said. ‘This includes 12 cranial nerves, which control everything in your skull from your eyesight and hearing to your ability to open your mouth, breathe, chew and swallow. As a result, these are critical to your health and incorporating craniopathy into the treatment enables us to understand any strains or issues with the way the cranium, spine and jaw are working together.’
With stress cited as another key reason for workplace absenteeism in 2021, Tom explained that managing this condition was critical to people’s overall wellbeing.
‘While humans are designed to be able to adapt and cope with stress for a relatively short period of time, we are not designed to live in chronic stress,’ he said. ‘However, the lifestyles we lead mean that there is often constant chronic stress in both our home and work lives. As a result, it is not a question of whether we are going to experience stress but how we are going to manage it. And that is where self-care comes in.
‘Everyone can take steps to look after themselves more in 2023, but, as well as eating better or exercising more, caring for your spinal health is so important. I always say the spine is like an engine and, like any engine, it needs servicing and looking after.’
And while Tom is focused on helping Islanders to look after their health, he is also keen to support those considering a career in chiropractic.
‘Now that we have this second facility, it would be great to grow the team further,’ he said. ‘We have always invited students to spend time observing and working with us and I am really keen now to focus more on the education and training side, with a view to recruiting more local talent.’
To celebrate the opening of Human Health in St Helier, Tom and the team are inviting Islanders to visit them between 11am and 4pm on Saturday for a complimentary spinal screening. They are also offering 50% off any first appointments booked in January or February.